What’s the exact opposite of what you’re saying?

By Laura Bergells on

When you edit a business presentation that offers a numbered list or step-by-step instructions, here’s a fun way to make your content more satisfying. In your head, ask yourself, “what might the exact opposite of that action be?”

  • “Communicate with employees” might become “Leave employees in the dark.”
  • “Follow the company policy manual” can be “Ignore all laws and rules.”
  • “Remain calm” might become “Have a complete nervous breakdown.”

Freak out

photo credit t0 Frau Shizzle

When I play “the opposite game” as I’m editing a list, I can easily spot weak writing. If my “opposite” advice sounds ridiculous, I know I’m saying something too vague to be valuable.

I might as well not say it at all!

Other than simply eliminating weak writing, I might also want to consider a re-write. A great way to pack more punch into a sloppy call to action is to move from the general to the specific. For example, instead of the first two bullet points, I might write “3 Company Policies to Review with Staff on May 1”. A specific headline or bullet point is often more memorable, actionable, or valuable than a generic one.

Try playing “the opposite game” with your latest business presentation or article. Take a look at your bullet point lists or headlines. What insights does “playing the opposite game” give you? How did it help you make your presentation stronger or more specific?

(And help me out — how can I re-write “Manage Expectations”??? As opposed to what?)