Have you ever given a prepared speech without notes?
I remember the first time I did–it was for a Toastmasters speech contest. I was nervous that I’d blank out, or that I wouldn’t say exactly what I had so carefully crafted on paper.
It was only a 5-7 minute speech, and I didn’t win the contest, but I had scored a major victory by giving it without notes. I realized that I needed to give myself permission to deviate from the exact words I had written, and by doing so I was more conversational and engaging.
Is it time to say, “Nuts to notes!” and “go naked” into your presentations?
Maybe. But probably not for most presentations.
Notes are a simple aid to keep you on track. I’ve seen plenty of professional speakers briefly refer to notes in presentations, too.
While you probably should include statistics and quotes on your notes (stuff you shouldn’t just make up), your notes don’t even have to be words!
To better jog your memory, consider using pictures or symbols. I once did entire speech notes as pictures. Here are the intro “notes”:
And here is what I said:
I’ll never forget the day I got my first pair of glasses. I was 8 years old.
Without glasses, I couldn’t even read the big E at the top of the eye chart.
But, when my mother and I walked out of the optometrist’s office, and I put on my glasses, I felt a little like Dorothy in the Land of Oz. It was a whole new world.
Mom. . . I can see the branches, the leaves on the trees.
Mom . . . I can read the signs.
I looked up at my mother. A tear was trickling down her cheek.
“Mom . . . you have wrinkles!”
Actually, by the time I had practiced the speech, I didn’t need these pictures for the intro anymore (because I was telling a story).
If you are interested in seeing the entire short speech with the corresponding pictures, click here.
Here are other, related topics I’ve written on:
Maybe you’ll say “Nuts to Notes” for a short speech, but also consider using notes sparingly, and thoughtfully, too (if you rely on your PowerPoint slides to cue you, make sure you have a back up plan in case of technical challenges!).