Good Speaking Is All About Having The Right Notes

If you can use smart notes, then you can maintain a good connection with your audience
If you can use smart notes, then you can maintain a good connection with your audience
Image Credit: Andars

Every time that you have a chance to give a speech, you want it to turn out well. You’d like to be able to walk off of the stage feeling good about the speech that you gave and because of the importance of public speaking the impact that it had on your audience. In order to make this kind of speech happen, there is a lot of information about your speech that you are going to have to be able to remember and then tell your audience. There are many different ways to go about doing this, which one is the best?

The Problem With Remembering What You Want To Say

Great, so you’ve agreed to give a speech. Now what? First you’ll do some research to find out what you want to say. The next thing that you are going to do is to spend some time creating the actual speech that you’ll be giving. This can take on many different forms. One of the most common forms is when people sit down and then proceed to write out word-for-word everything that they want to say. Many people do this although its generally not a good idea.

The reason that people tend to write out their speech is because they believe that the precise wording of the speech that they are going to be giving is important. Another reason that they may take this approach is because they think that by writing their speech out they won’t have to think as much when they are delivering the speech and this will help to calm their nerves. However, it turns out that this is a bad idea. If your write out your speech, then you are going to spend more time looking at your speech than your audience. You may lose your spot when reading your speech and that would be really bad. It can be hard to read a speech and connect with your audience and that will take away from the power of your speech. Additionally, your speech is going to come across as being unauthentic and that is never a good thing.

Alternatively, you could take the time to memorize your speech. However, this is going to take a lot of time and in the end, it carries with it a lot of risk. If at some point in time you forget what you want to say next, your goose is cooked. You might think that by memorizing your speech you will be less nervous; however, this is just going to end up making you even more nervous. It turns out that there are a lot of ways that we can prepare to give a speech that are not going to end up serving us well. Our goal has to be able to give our speech while at the same time connecting with our audience and this means that we need to come up with a way to remember what we want to say that will allow us to do this.

The Power Of Good Notes

Ok, so there are a lot of different bad ways to attempt to stay on track while you are giving a speech. Is there a way that will work for us? It turns out that the answer to this question is “yes” – good notes. The best way to think about good notes is to view them as a form of a cheat sheet for your next speech. Good notes should contain the key points that you want to make in your speech along with anything that you think that you might forget (e.g. dates, names, statistics, etc.). Speakers need to understand that notes should contain the things that you think that you might forget, not the things that you already know by heart.

So just exactly how big should your sheet of notes be? The answer is that that notes that you use for your next speech should actually be quite small. The one thing that you don’t want to do is to end up using a stack of 3″x5″ note cards that can be dropped on the floor at any time. Your goal is to provide yourself with a reminder of what you want to cover during your speech, not the things that you want to say. We need to keep in mind that when we are giving a speech what we really want to be focusing on are the points that we want to make. The words that we are saying are simply there to help us get our points across to our audience. Its the points that we make that we want our audience to be able to walk away remembering.

A lot of speakers resist using notes because they believe that they may end up spending their speech just looking at their notes and not at their audience. The secret to using notes successfully is to realize that its ok to take a look at your notes. However, when you are looking at your notes, don’t be speaking. If you speak while looking at your notes, then you’ll be breaking your connection with your audience. If instead, you look up again before you start to speak, then there is a good chance that your audience is not going to even remember that you looked at your notes.

What All Of This Means For You

Every time that we give a speech, we have a lot of information that we’d like to be able to convey to our audience in order to share the benefits of public speaking. In fact, we have so much information that there is a very good chance that we’re not going to be able to remember everything that we want to say or the order in which we’d like to say it. We’re going to need some help keeping our thoughts straight here.

Often times when people create a speech, they write the speech out word-for-word how they want to say it. The reason that they do this is because they think that it will give them more control over what they will be saying and will make them less nervous. However, it never works out that way and if they lose their place, then they are sunk. Another approach is to memorize your speech. However, this is also a bad idea because if you forget part of it then your whole speech is going to go off track. The best way to remember what you want to say during a speech is to create some good notes. These notes should be like a cheat sheet for your speech – short and too the point. Your notes should be short and should be a reminder of what you want to say, not the actual things that you want to say. When you are using notes, remember to not speak while you are looking at your notes. Look down, read your notes, then look up and start to speak again.

The next speech that you are going to be giving is going to be important to your audience. You have a lot of great information that you want to share with them. In order to make sure that you cover everything that you want to tell them, you need to use notes. The notes that you use need to add to your speech and not take away from it. Create notes that contain the information that you’ll need and make sure that you use them in a way that complements and does not take away from your speech. With the proper notes, your next speech just might be the one that connects with your audience and ends up changing their world forever!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How can you make sure that you don’t include too much information on your speech notes?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So what would the best audience in the world look like to you? I can tell you: the audience would be made up of people exactly like you. They would like the same things as you. They would have the same political views as you. They would be interested in the same things as you. As great as this audience would be, you’ll never have a chance to address them because they simply don’t exist. Instead, more often than not you are going to find yourself addressing an audience that is made up of people that come from a variety of different cultures. When this happens, in order to maximize the importance of public speaking your speech had better have been designed for a cross-cultural audience.