The Best Handful of Tips 72 – Speech Note Tricks

The Best Handful of Tips 72 –

Speech Note Tricks

Prepare your speech notes with care when making a policy statement or presenting a formal paper. If you are a professional, such as a scientist, a manager or a politician you will want to be reported accurately.

You will often need two versions. First write out your formal paper as if you are writing an article. Next write a chatty version, the way you normally speak.

For an informal talk to colleagues and staff you will probably need only brief notes with headings or key words to keep you on track so you can chat in a logical order.  

The five best tips when preparing your speech notes

1. Preparation takes time

If you want a handout for journalists, or for a version to be published in a proceedings, write your message in clear and simple English using short sentences and paragraphs.

The second version for your personal speech notes should bne written the way you speak, using clumps of words and contractions (like ‘it’s’ and ‘can’t’) the way you normally talk.

Keep your sentences short. Use personal pronouns and words with impact that arouse emotions. 

Avoid words that are too technical, or ones your audience may not fully understand or you have trouble pronouncing.

  1. Use compact notes

If you are using notes don’t arrive with a wad of paper. With large sheets it’s easy to lose your way. 

Use half- For special emphasis sheets of thick A4 paper and type on one side of the paper only.

If you are not using a lectern, half-sheets can be held in your hand and you can maintain better eye contact with your audience.     

Staple them in order, or at least have them well numbered in case you drop them.

  1. Select an easy-to-read type

Much will depend on your eyesight and the lighting at the venue.

Do not print your notes all in capitals – use lower case (Times Roman is good) and enlarge the print if necessary.

  1. Avoid splitting paragraphs between pages

Leave wide margins for last minute notes, corrections or topical ad-libs.

  1. Mark up your copy for special emphasis

Underline and use bold print or a yellow marking pen to emphasise the key points you want people to remember.

To make a point, pause and then raise your voice. Perhaps even repeat your message a second time for emphasis.

There are times to speak slowly. There are times to get emotional and to speak fast. These should be noted on your speech notes by bold print.

If you want your speech to be remembered don’t make too many points. Ideally, make only three recommendations and make them three times.

Tell your audience what you are going to tell them, give your main message and tell them what you have told them in your summary.

Your audience will be lucky to remember 20% what they hear . But they often remember what they see. That’s why you should reinforce your message with handouts and visual aids.

 Geoffrey Moss

“You are your own best visual aid – don’t let your Power Point presentation take over.”

SOURCE: “Persuasive Ways” published by Moss Associates Ltd, New Zealand and in Chinese by the Shanghai People’s Publishing House and as “Secrets of Persuasion” by Cengage Learning Asia. Also published in Hungarian as “Getting Your Ideas Across” by  Bagolyvar Kft, Budapest and by Kogan Page Ltd., U.K. Also available as an e-book from
Persuasive Ways (China) Cover 



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