A few weeks ago, a client came into my office looking for help.
His name was Bill and he was the senior VP of advertising for a national insurance firm. He was a seasoned professional and quite accustomed to speaking in public. I knew that because he appeared frequently on a local TV business program.
Bill’s problem, he said, came about during a recent board meeting. He was in the middle of a presentation when several board members began peppering him with questions about a new advertising campaign. Bill is used to answering tough questions, in fact, he said, he most always looks forward to them. However, after dealing with three fairly difficult questions, and trying to get on with the remainder of his remarks, Bill said, “I froze. I had completely lost my place, and it seemed like an eternity. The board didn’t approve my proposal. I lost their confidence, and I never want that to happen again.”
There is no question on my mind that Bill is an accomplished executive. But, the only thing he took into the meeting was a piece of foolscap that listed just the topics he planned to cover for his notes. “Why?” I asked. “Because I knew my stuff,” he replied. “I thought that my words would simply come to me when I looked down at the headings.”
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For another perspective on the use of notes, read another of our blogs.