The best speeches are delivered without notes – all speakers should strive for to do this. Freedom from notes allows you to gesture more freely and use your speaking voice to greater advantage
However sometimes notes have to be used – for example where you have to refer to complex facts or you need an exact quote OR when you just don’t feel confident enough to leave your notes behind!
A few pointers for using notes
- Make sure they’re easy to see – place them on a lectern or music stand
- Use a very large plain font – they need to be easy to read from wherever you place them
- Write a list of key points to keep you on track – resist the urge to have your complete speech in front of you
- Notes in pauses – try and refer to your notes only during natural pauses
- If you forget where you are, keep calm, stop speaking, turn to your notes, find your place and turn back to your audience – you will appear far more in control by doing this than if you stumble and stutter while you attempt to read your notes and speak at the same time
- Maintain as much eye contact as possible when referring to your notes.
- When referring to your notes, make your actions deliberate – stop talking, turn to your notes, find your place, look back at your audience and start talking again.
- Don’t speak while you are reading from your notes
- If you have lots of of notes, arrange the pages so you can slide the used pages to one side
- Don’t have text on both sides of the page – turning pages over looks very clumsy
- Don’t staple pages together
As with everything in public speaking, preparation is key, so prepare your notes and think about how you will use them – and you will increase your chances of success.