Rolling On – The Best Handful of Tips 77 -Your SPEECH NOTES


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 especially if reporters from the media are present.

          You will 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.

Five of the best tips when preparing your speech notes 

* Focus on a simple clear message  

          Keep in mind the fleeting nature of oral communication. What actions or message do you want your audience to take or to remember? Write it down and keep it simple.

          Your first and last statements are the most important. These must be presented with vigour and with good eye contact, without reading your notes – loud and clear!

          If you want a handout for journalists, or for a version to be published in a proceedings, write your message in clear English, edit heavily.

          The second version for your personal speech notes should be 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 feelings and emotions.          Avoid words that are too technical, ones your audience may not fully understand, or words you can’t pronounce easily.   

* 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 or get blown away in the wind. Use half- 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, on the upper corner.

* Use an easy-to-read type

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

          Don’t print your notes all in capitals – use caps and lower case (Times Roman is good) and enlarge the print if it will help.

* Avoid splitting paragraphs between pages

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

          Pause between paragraphs and changes in your message.

* 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.

          Don’t make too many points if you want your speech remembered. The ideal is to 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.

           End with a climax, not an anticlimax. Always try to end with a memorable message.    Pause, take a deep breath. Look at your audience and punch home your final message!

Geoffrey Moss

“Never forget eighty percent of the success of your presentation is in your preparation”.

Source: “Persuasive Ways. ‘Tricks of the trade’ to get your ideas across”. First published by  Moss Associates Ltd., New Zealand and in Chinese by the Shanghai People’s Publishing House, the Singapore Institute of Management, Kogan Page Ltd, U.K and in Hungarian by Bagolyvar Konyvkiado.  Also published as the “Secrets of Persuasion” by Cengage Learning Asia and as an e-book and sold by
Persuasive Ways Cover

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