I am an outliner. I love to outline speeches, stories, and just about any project that I’m starting on. An outline is a starting point and having a good tool for creating one is very important. I usually outline in Microsoft Word, which allows me to move things around and put my thoughts in any order I wish. I usually put down the main points first, and then fill in the sub-points and substance of the project.
The power of MS Word is flexibility. I can see my thoughts and then put them in order. But how do you outline when a computer is not available? I’ve tried paper, but I find myself erasing more than writing. There must be an offline tool that offers flexibility and speed to get your ideas on paper fast but with the ability to move things around.
Enter the Five Minute Outliner. This little tool fits in your pocket and you can take it anywhere. The tool works simply. Grab a Sharpie and put a project title on the title card. Put your main points on the main subject cards provided and lay them out on your desk. You now have a starting point. Move them around if necessary. When you get the proper flow and order you are ready for step two. Grab your fine point Sharpie and start writing down sub-points on the sub-point cards. Put the cards down on the desk below the main points.
The sub-point cards are flexible. If you are working on a project with lots of changes put one sub-point on each card. If the project is rather static you can put multiple sub-points on one card for easier visibility. The Outliner is flexible and is great for group collaboration. You can pass out a main subject card to a small group and then give each team member a sub-point card. The ideas will come fast and furious. The cards allow the group to arrange points quickly and easily. Within minutes a complex project can be outlined in a group setting.
Get back together and layout the whole project. In minutes you can fine tune the project. You can discard and consolidate ideas easily. Soon you’ll have a workable solution. The best part… stack the cards in the order of the outline from top to bottom. Put the title card on top and clip them together making an outline walleteer. This will fit easily into your pocket or purse and allow you to take the project intact and in order back to your computer.
Grab some mini clips and stack your outline on your desktop tower. You can now input your outline quickly and visibly into your computer. The desktop tower is easily made with a clothes hanger dowel and a large clothespin. This tower is great for computer input or visual feedback. I use the tower when I practice a speech that I have outlined.
When you are done with your outline and you need a synopsis use the “jogger” card. This is a vertical aligned card with lines for your major and sub points. This card is very useful for speeches and meeting prep. Put it in your pocket or purse and take it with you. The card is small enough to fit easily on a podium or lectern for quick reference. Never forget your place in a speech again. The card is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand so it will be less distracting to an audience when using it for notes.
Five Minute Outliner: Instructions for use:
- Download the Five Minute Outline Template for MS Word
- Open the template and modify as necessary
- Print out on Avery business card stock (10 Card)
- Break cards apart
- Fill in a title and main points
- Fill in sub-points
- Arrange as necessary
- Fill in the jogger summary card
- For portability stack cards in order and clip together with mini clip
- Transport easily in pocket or purse
This tool has made speech and meeting planning much faster and easier for me. In a few minutes I’m able to get my main points down and try different sub points and project order. The flexibility of this tool makes outlining quick and fun.
Try it today!
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