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Does Your Presentation Pass the Notecard Test?

NotecardImagine you’re about to start your presentation.

And then this bossy redhead (me) comes and swipes your notecards, steals your clicker, or yanks your outline off of the podium.

She starts to give your presentation. How would she do?

  1. Great. There’s enough information and she could pull it off.
  2. Ok. But there are a few stories in there where she’s going to look ridiculous.
  3. Awful. No one else but me can give my presentation.

If you answered C, congratulation you’ve passed the notecard test!

If you’ve answered A or B, you’ve got some work to do to create a remarkable presentation and position yourself in a category of one.

Never fear – I’m here to help you pass the notecard test. I’m here to help you create a presentation that ONLY you could give. And even if you’ve passed, read on as there might be a tip or two that makes your speech more remarkable.

Why do you need to position yourself in a category of one?

“Different is better than better.” – Sally Hogshead

You could be the best speaker in your industry. You could be the best speaker on your topic. You could be the best speaker in the world.

But no one cares if you’re better than your competition if you don’t stand out. If people don’t know about you, what you speak on, and what makes you different from everyone else, you’ll blend into the noise.

You’ll compete on price. You’ll be a commodity like milk. Milk is milk. It doesn’t matter what brand you buy, you’re still getting milk. You don’t want people to say “a sales speaker is a sales speaker. It doesn’t matter who you hire, you’ll still get sales training.”

You want them to want you in an “I’ve gotta have her at any cost” kind of way.

If you’re not passing the notecard test, you’re blending in with the crowd and not show how you’re different.

Let’s discover your difference. Your competitive – and dare I say unfair advantage – as a speaker.

Step 1: Stop being a “me too” speaker and become a “yes and…” speaker

A “me too” speaker is the exact type of speaker where it’s easy to swipe their notecards and give their speech.

They recycle the ideas of the greats that have gone before them instead of blazing their own path.

You can recognize the “me to” speaker because they use a lot of quotes from the greats of their field, you’ve heard most of the advice that they give because it comes straight from the best books of your field, and their stories and case studies sound vaguely familiar.

Now, I love BUILDING upon the works of the smarty pants people who came before me. There’s nothing wrong with a citing (emphasis here on CITING otherwise you’re plagiarizing) other theories or thinkers who inform your idea.

But instead of recycling ideas, how about taking those ideas and putting your own spin on them. I call this becoming a “yes and….” speaker.

Now, “yes and…” is not a new concept. In fact, it’s the first rule of improv. In an improv scene, you can never say “no” to the other player. You can only say “yes and…” because it keeps the scene building.

As a speaker who is positioned in a category of one, you must “yes and…” the ideas. Build upon those ideas or combine those ideas in a way that makes you different from all the other “me too” speakers out there.

Now, see what I did there. I took a concept from another field and I put a twist on it. I applied it to my industry in a different way. I “yes anded” the “yes and…” rule.

You can do it, too, in your next speech.

Step 2: Tell your story with a twist

Have you ever heard that your story makes you unique?

Everyone from Seth Godin to me has given you that advice.

When everyone is giving you that advice, guess what?

It’s no longer unique.

Telling your story to position you in a category of one is just not enough these days. I’ve worked with enough speakers who have gone through other programs that taught them to tell their story only to learn afterward that no one cares.

Unless you’re a celebrity or a very important person, no one wants to hear your story.

So does this mean you should stop telling your story? HECK NO!

Your story can make you stand out if you tell right. And by telling it right, I mean making it relevant to your audience.

Every story you tell should always come back to the audience and show what they can learn from the story, how they can relate to the story, or what the moral is.

No one is interested in your story unless you tell them “what’s in it for me.”

Your story + WIIFM = Category of one positioning

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Step 3: What makes you fascinating?

Have you ever sat back and thought about what makes you fascinating? Why all eyes in the room should be on you?

If the answer is no, let’s fix that (and it’s an easy fix).

Sally Hogshead says, “You don’t learn how to be fascinating. You unlearn how to be boring.”

And she should know. Sally is the creator of the Fascination Advantage Assessment that tells you how the world sees you. This system is based on the science of marketing and branding.

As a speaker, imagine knowing how the audience sees you at your best. What unique gifts that you bring to them that make you truly captivating. How would this change how you would position yourself.

For me knowing my Fascination Advantage, fundamentally shifted how I show up in my business and on stage. People look to me for breakthroughs and to present new and different ideas every time I open my mouth.

Which makes sense – my primary advantage is Innovation and I speak the language of creativity.

What language do you speak at your best? (Tell me in the comments – I might even pop by and give you a few insights on how to use it as a speaker).

If you haven’t taken the Fascination Assessment, click here and do it. It’s a small investment, but it can teach you how to stand out as a speaker and position yourself.

Being different is your best bet to get your message out

There are so many speakers out there who are struggling to get their message out. They are blending in the sea of sameness hoping for a big break.

Your best bet – your only bet – is to position yourself in a category of one. Stop being a “me too” speaker and start “yes anding” ideas. Tell your story in a way that makes it relevant to the audience. And find out what makes you fascinating, and use it every time you give a speech.

Because a bossy redhead should never be able to steal your notecards and give your speech. Only you should be able to give your presentation.

If you’d love more words of wisdom on being a category of one, check out this podcast that I did with Maggie Patterson of the Marketing Moxie podcast.

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9 responses to “Does Your Presentation Pass the Notecard Test?”

  1. Fiona Fine says:

    I am enjoying your blog posts! I took Sally’s FASCINATE test: The Talent & Prestige are my two.
    I am expanding my brand and I have a 45 min new signature speech that I have to give soon which doesn’t yet feel integrated or natural…

    • Michelle_Mazur says:

      Thank you Fiona! I’m glad they are helping you.

      The Talent – so you’re Passion + Prestige. It doesn’t surprise me that your talk doesn’t feel integrated that – The Talent sets high expectations for themselves because they want to deliver their absolute BEST to their audience. In speaking, Talents excel because what they deliver is so great that their audience wants to continue a relationship. This means that it takes you more preparation and practice than most to get that presentation to where you want it to be. You do expect the best of yourself.

      If there are any questions that I can answer to help with your signature talk, feel free to reach out to me michelle (at)

  2. Coach Rye says:

    “… taught them to tell their story only to learn afterward that no one cares..” — A harsh reality but thanks for the reminder.

    I enjoy your blogs posts and your amazing tips, and I will definitely look into taking the Fascination Assessment soon.

    • Michelle_Mazur says:

      You’re welcome. It’s a hard reminder for sure. Our story can be powerful only if we make it relevant to the audience.

      Let me know what your Archetype is when you take the Fascination Advantage!

  3. Andrea Owen says:

    Hi Michelle! I’ve recently found you and am loving your blog! I took Sally’s test awhile back- I’m a Maestro: Power/Prestige. I though it was interesting (I’ve done the DISC assessment and am a high D and I) but have never really paired it up with my marketing, nor speaking. Just confirmed what I already knew about myself 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Michelle_Mazur says:

      Hi Andrea! I work with a lot of Maestros in my business (or twin the Victor Prestige/Power). As a Maestro people expect you to lead and command – think of a conductor of an orchestra. As a speaker, you should tap into your power, don’t waffle on your words or soften – people want to see you take a stand. You’ve got an intense focus so whatever you put out into the world whether it’s a speech or blog post will be full of rich information that expresses your unique point of view. You set high standards for yourself. As a speaker it means, you are focused on creating the BEST presentation possible for the audience. You want them to have the best experience and give them cutting-edge content.

      Tap into your power and command the stage. Use your prestige to raise the bar on the presentation you give. And you’ll always be striving to be the best possible speaker.

  4. Julia Pimsleur says:

    Working with a public speaking coach has turned out to be one of the best career
    decisions I ever made. He helped me find a way of talking to VCs where I held my
    ground, but did so in my own style. Now that I speak openly about having
    coaches, I found that many of the entrepreneurs and investors I respect most
    tell me about their coaches.

    • Michelle_Mazur says:

      That’s awesome Julia. I’m working more and more on startup pitches and I know how tough the VC audience is. They ask good questions and it feels more like a debate than a presentation at point. I’m glad you found someone who helped you so much. You’re right the most successful entrepreneurs do have coaches because pitching is not for the faint of heart!

  5. 5 Creative Principles For Remarkable Presentations | All Free Website says:

    […] yourself to go beyond being a ?me too? speaker. This type of speaker simply recycles the ideas of others, diligently cites their sources, but […]

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