Speaking Without Notes

by | May 5, 2016 | Marketing, Presentation

Have you ever sat in a presentation where the speaker spends the whole time reading you their notes? Maybe you give presentations, but are reluctant or scared to do so without notes to fall back on? Well, the good news is there is a way to give a high quality presentation every time without using any notes at all…

If you have been with me in the May 2009 you would find me at the Microsoft campus in Reading. I am about to speak to a room filled with the leaders of the industry I work in. This is the kind of audience that is hard to get together, but when Microsoft invites them they come.

As I prepare to give my 10 minute presentation I am frantically reading the notes I’ve made and reviewing my PowerPoint slides. I am worried that I won’t remember the script I created… and not only are the industry leaders (my customers) in the room, but some of my competitors are too.

In this moment there is only one solution I can think of. As I step up to the lectern I take my notes with me…

At the end of the presentation one of my colleagues congratulates me, but I know I could’ve done better. I am disappointed with myself, knowing I was too focused on the notes and feeling like I’ve just missed the target on one of the most high stakes presentations of my career so far.

I vow NEVER to rely on notes or a script again. 

When speaking with notes most people are distracted, worrying they will miss something out or get something wrong and so are constantly checking the pieces of paper in front of them. When you speak without notes you are more engaged with your audience, you are able to create a deeper connection and read the reactions and emotions in the room.

The key to speaking without notes is to have a structure for your content, a framework that you can follow as you let the content you have created flow through you. This framework gives you confidence in your delivery and the certainty that you will remember each of the key points you want to share.

To develop your framework, think about each of the key problems your audience is facing or needs they have and how you can share ways to resolve them. Also, think of relevant stories you can share to motivate your audience and deepen their understanding of each subject area.

Perhaps the biggest tip is to trust yourself and share your passion. Figure out why you care about your subject and speak from the heart.