Orange Jacket

Beethoven and Mozart employed themes, or repeatable musical phrases in many of their compositions. The same technique can benefit speakers. Themes represent the whole idea of a talk, and orient an audience. Although usually suggested in the opening, a great theme can be employed anywhere within a presentation.

In March, David drove through heavy snow to the Santa Fe ski area. At the top of the first lift he couldn't see a thing; it was a whiteout. He didn't want to turn back. But fear is a constrictor. David's skiing became tentative, and the fun evaporated. Then another skier-- about the same skill level appeared out of the mist. He was wearing a bright orange jacket. David decided to track the skier and his orange jacket. David's orientation returned, along with his confidence and enjoyment.

Recently, when Deborah spoke to women leaders at CUNA Mutual, she began with her own experience of skiing in a blizzard. She incorporated the theme of "Find an orange jacket." Her theme reappeared mid-way through her presentation as "Today, let me be your orange jacket." And her closing was "Be the orange jacket for the next generation of leaders." Whether repeated exactly or revisited with variations, themes are the North Star for presentations.

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