Evernote is the single most critical application in my daily workflow. When it comes to public speaking, it serves as an indispensible tool for organization. Here’s how I used Evernote as a means of preparing specifically for panels:
Create a notebook. I start by creating a new notebook dedicated to the panel. This is where I collect my thoughts, ideas content related to the panel. If I’m making a 6 minute opening commentary, for example, this is where I park my talking points as a note (for talking points, I use 24 or 30 Trebuchet MS font – more on that below).
Curate information. Then I start collecting information related to the panel. I have over 5,000 notes on Evernote consisting of thoughts, clipped articles, and Twitter clips that are tagged. I find relevant readings and pull them into the panel notebook for review before the meeting. I do this by searching over my tag list or searching key terms. I search Google, but the concentrated, curated information on Evernote offers a more pure source of material that I have identified as important over the years (I started using Evernote in 2008). Also, I have amassed hundreds of snippets from books that I have read. This kind of material can’t be found on search engines.
Anticipate dialog and discussion. I create separate notes for potential questions or lines of discussion that have come up on the pre-panel conference calls. Each question is the title of a note and talking points make up the body of the note. This helps me organize my thinking so that I can contribute in the most meaningful and concise way to an audience.
Review. In the plane on the way to the venue, or the morning of the panel I read over everything that I’ve collected. This helps me get my thinking, mindset and statistics in line. It’s also great to re-discover amazing writing that I saved from two or three years back.
Show up with my notebook. I bring my MacBook Air or iPad to the panel. Since I have thousands of bits of information at my fingertips, Evernote allows me to refer to a quote or statistic on the fly should the dialog change course. I prefer using Evernote on my Air during panels since the interface is bigger and easier to navigate in this situation. Quick access is another reason why titles and tags are important in building your Evernote database.
Sometimes I show up with my iPhone. I sometimes appear at a speaking venue with only my phone. And here’s why I make my talking points 24 font and above: It allows me to quickly scan my talking points on my phone without putting on my glasses!
Disassemble the notebook. The day after the meeting I delete the notebook and put all my notes back into my master folder (the default spot where notes go). Any original thinking that I may have created surrounding the panel is tagged and titled so that I can use it later.
It’s important to note that I personally use notebooks for active projects that require quick access to a collection of notes. Otherwise I use tags by default as my core means of organizing notes.
How do you use Evernote to prepare for your public speaking?