Tuesday, December 8, 2009

9 Ways to Track Your Ideas - Don't Forget Where You Left Your Treasure!

Other than Captain Jack Sparrow, who always had more interest in rum and the fair Elizabeth than much else, what kind of pirate allows themselves to lose track of their treasure?

When you're a developing speaker, ideas are your treasure, and can be just as hard to come by, and to keep, as the Dead Man's Chest. When you have to speak on the spur of the moment, that's generally when all your thoughts disappear. It's when you are least ready to deal with them that your ship comes in, flooding you with more opportunity for ideas than you can handle while sleeping, working, shopping, or driving.

Ideas are crucial to speaking development. Even people who have clear cut stories of climbing Mt. Everest or surviving a plane crash must augment the framework of their talk with more than the dramatic event itself. The most successful speakers will continue be on the lookout for bigger and shinier examples to refresh their tried and true approach for new audiences. You never know when you're going to run across the Holy Grail.

When those ideas hit, where do you keep them? Do you have a map drawn up to retrieve them when the time comes? Check out these 9 ways to keep your treasure, and see which ones work best for you - or, use them all!

  1. Notebook by the bed, couch, desk, anywhere you spend a lot of time - still the most efficient, and quietest, way to jot down those 3 a.m. inpirations
  2. Post-It Notes - write it down, then put the notes up on a cork board in your work area
  3. Virtual Post-It Notes - Mac comes with its own, on the PC I use MoRUN.net Sticker Lite - FREE
  4. Chalk/White boards - almost as old-fashioned as a notebook, but it never gets closed. (warning: they do get erased, particularly by overzealous janitors and young children.)
  5. E-mail - write the idea down and email it to yourself. Bonus points for a third party email account like g-mail, which means your ideas are accessible on any computer, and easy to find when you file the emails under 'Ideas'.
  6. Texting - in a pinch, text yourself the idea. Just not while driving.
  7. Leave yourself a voice-mail. A lively alternative to note-taking
  8. Digital recorders - another great on-the-run solution - and they are less expensive than ever.
  9. Flip-Cam - these mini cameras are all the rage, and how better to remind yourself of a great idea than to watch a quick video taken in your (parked) car of you energetically pitching yourself a brilliant idea?
Now comes the fun part - counting the bounty. It's one thing to know you've got treasure, another to know exactly what you've got. If you never open that notebook again, the idea is as lost as if you never wrote it down. Pick a day of the week or month for Tracking the Take. Schedule (yes, schedule) an hour or two and gather your ideas into a single document, separating them by theme or assigning each a 'moral of the story'. I use a Write document (similar to Word), then email it to myself to back-up against data loss, print them out, and put them up in my work area. Your brain may work differently than mine (I hope so...), so find the best Treasure Tracking solution for you.

You'll be amazed at how many ideas you come up with over a week's time as you see your treasure piled all in one place. Once they're in front of you, you can cull through the good and the great, and your brain will begin working on how they can be used within your current message. They might even stimulate a new message altogether!

Treasure your ideas, and don't let your bullion get buried! Speak...and Deliver!

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