Are you in the habit of bringing up elaborate speaking notes or scripts when you give a presentation? If so, you are likely causing more harm than good! Extensive notes and scripts can actually make it harder to present and to recover from those inevitable mistakes and slip-ups all speakers make. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to use any notes at all…you just have to know how to make your speaking notes work for you. In this 2 Minute Communication Tip, I show you my method for creating functional notes that help instead of hinder!
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Your speaker scripts are holding you back! Here’s what to do about it.
Welcome, I’m Lauren Sergy with another Two Minute Tip for your next presentation.
It’s true that giving a smooth conference talk or business presentation without notes shows an extra layer of polish. But speaker notes can be a very good tool for most presenters, provided you use them the right way.
Here is the key: good speaker notes should only ever function as cues – reminders of your primary points to help you stay on track. They should not act as de facto scripts. That’s where most people go wrong. They go up with multiple pages or index cards packed with full sentences with too much detail. These kinds of notes are distracting and difficult to use – more of a hinderance than a help.
My tip for creating good speaker notes is to use one – and only one – eight-and-a-half by eleven sheet of paper with JUST your key points written in bullet point form – no full sentences! It should be printed in minimum 14 point font (or bigger), using bold text with lots of white space between each line.
You want to be able to read the notes at arm’s length, using no more than a quick glance to see where you are and what point you are supposed to be speaking to.
Using notes like this takes practice – I know, cue the groaning. But you need to get used to cuing yourself with just a quick glance, speaking to a point instead of worrying about repeating a line verbatim. Now I know that practice can be a sticky wicket, so If you need some advice on finding time to practice, I’ve linked to a video on that up here and down in the description.
The process of putting together good notes like this requires you think deeply about your content, which helps you really get it into your head. It’s time well-spent and is part of your overall practice efforts.
I have every confidence that you can do this. Practice using the notes, focus on speaking to a point instead of repeating a script, and you’ll be on the road to minimal or even no notes in no time.
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