It can be a big hang up for people whether to use notes or not when delivering a speech. We think that our audience might get the wrong impression of us if they see notes in front of us. \’Oh, they don\’t know their subject, speech content well enough so they have to use notes, they must not be an expert in their subject or field\’, are the things we think they are saying about us as we prepare and deliver our speech. The fact of the matter is that most professional speakers use notes when they are speaking in public. Whether it be business, family or friends, the use of notes is recommended for many reasons:
- They help keep you more relaxed before your speaking engagement. In the knowledge that you will have your notes in front of you, you will not be as nervous than if you had no notes and that you had to remember your complete speech from your head
- They help keep you on track, saying everything in logical order, leaving out nothing and forgetting nobody. Sitting down after your speech and evaluating how it went for you and then thinking \’Oh, I never mentioned or I never thanked…\’, can be somewhat annoying as the opportunity is gone and has been lost
- They show the audience that you have prepared your speech, that you will not be talking off the cuff and going on and on. Your audience are hoping too that by you having notes that you will stick to your allotted time and be organised
What types of notes should a speaker have in front of them? Many speakers vary in their choice of notes:
- Some speakers have their complete speech in front of them. Every word they want to say is on paper in front of them and they simply read it out. This approach is perfectly fine as long as they don\’t lose the connectivity between them and their audience. Adding the music, sincere eye contact and speaking from the heart still remain key ingredients
- Other speakers have their complete speech in front of them, but have key words in each paragraph highlighted. They look down, see the word and it reminds them of what to say next. Before going on to the next part of their speech or turning the page, they take a quick glance confirming that everything has been said
- Some other speakers use pointer cards where they have transferred their speech onto small postcard-like cards in the form of key words, which reminds them of what they want to say. This involves a lot of pre-practice and preparation
Having decided on how you will design your notes, where do you put them during your speech:
- If you have decided to read out your speech, use A4 paper and with your speech in large 14-16 font, double-spaced and leave the speech on the table or the podium. Leave your hands free to gesture and look professional
- If you decide to use cards, you can do the above or it is perfectly fine to hold them in your hand as you deliver your speech. Though it can be challenging to do this if you are holding a hand-held microphone.
- If your speech involves a story or stories, the story is told without any notes.
Some speakers are now using iPads and Tablets as note holders when speaking in this new age of technology as their way of keeping their speech on track. Which ever way you wish to use notes (and you should use some form of notes), you need to practice beforehand…