A Noteworthy Idea

When delivering a speech or presentation, it is preferable for a speaker to do so without notes whenever possible.  Being free from notes allows a speaker to have maximum eye contact with the audience. The speaker can also move out from behind the lectern and use the full speaking area. And, it conveys to the audience that the speaker is comfortable with the subject.

However, depending on the length of the presentation, its complexity and the amount of time available to prepare, speaking without notes is not always possible.  In those cases where you have to use notes, here are some ideas for using them effectively:

Keep notes to a minimum

Having your speech written word for word will tie you to it.  You will be reading out loud and not speaking.  If you look up from the notes for even a brief period of time, it could be difficult to find your place when you go back to them.

Points, not paragraphs

Do not write your notes in paragraph form.  You will get lost.  Better to write them out in point form with only one or two lines per point.

Large font

Many people have their notes written in size 12 or even 10 font, the same that they use for printed documents.  Unless you have extremely good eyesight, small fonts will be difficult to read without squinting at your notes or picking them up or bending over the lectern to get a closer look.  Your notes are for you. So increase the font to 18 or 20 so that you can easily read your notes.

Organization

Having a mess of papers makes it too easy to get lost.  If you have notes on standard letter-size paper, put them in a binder.  Make sure beforehand that you can turn the pages easily.  If necessary, add tabs or “dog ear” the corners of the pages.

Cards

Many people suggest using speaking cards with key points.  The advantage of such cards is that they will allow you to move about on the stage.  The disadvantage is that they limit your ability to gesture with the hand holding the cards and they can be distracting to some in the audience.  And you do not want to drop them!  Practising your speech with the note cards beforehand will help things go more smoothly.

Slides

If you have a PowerPoint presentation, you can use the slides to keep on track.  One thing to avoid, is reading the slides with your back to the audience.  When going to a new slide, you should pause, turn to the slide and quickly collect your thoughts, turn back to your audience and then speak.

Lectern

If you do use a lectern, it would be great if you can get out from behind it from time to time during your speech, provided that the venue is suitable for doing so.  A good example of when to do is when recounting a personal story that helps drive home your message.  You should not need notes as you have lived the story.

Step out from behind the lectern, even if it is only a short distance, and tell the story.  Then, as you are approaching its conclusion, return to the lectern, check your notes and move on to the next point.

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Testimonials

John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International