Smashing Presentation Myths – Part 3

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Over the next 5 blogs I will be smashing 5 mainstream presentation skills myths.

Myth Three = presenters DON’T always need notes

In my last two blogs I looked at the pace of speech and eye contact. In this article I intend to dispel the popular myth that presenters are always better when not using notes.

It’s amazing how many presenters claim not to use notes when they have word slides up on a screen to use as prompts. I don’t believe in this technique at all – it has been killing human interaction for years – but I will deal with that in my next blog on PowerPoint.

I believe that in most cases it is much easier to listen to professional advisors, subject matter experts or those in senior roles if they have well prepared notes to keep them on track. In my experience, people who don’t use notes will often:

  • Lack audience focus
  • Repeat themselves
  • Appear imprecise and vague because they use filler words (probably, sort of, usually)
  • Lack clarity and brevity
  • Speak for too long
  • Make mistakes on important points of detail

If any or all of the issues above don’t matter you may get away without notes. But in most cases if you are speaking for more than 30 seconds it will be helpful to jot down some key points to refer to during your talk. Small cue cards are a good idea in less formal situations. They are less distracting than A4 sheets especially if you use the waterfall method we teach on the Black Isle Clarity, Brevity & Impact programme.

Remember: if you follow my advice on delivery – using powerful eye contact in silences rather than worrying about looking at notes when talking – no one will notice your notes anyway.

The next blog will be all about using PowerPoint less, and how you can achieve amazing results by simply going back to basics and getting rid of the words on the screen.