Many nervous speakers depend entirely on their notes. They write their speech and try to memorise it word for word. To help them recall the information they will take their written speech to the lectern with them. There, terrified that they may forget some part of the presentation, they bury their head in their notes and read them verbatim.
Because of this there is no connection between the speaker and the audience; no eye contact and no visual clues to clarify meaning.
Reading a speech is not altogether a bad thing; and particularly with complex or technical presentations it may be necessary to read much of the information to ensure that it is given correctly. But with practice and good preparation you do not have to sound as if you are reading aloud.
· Most of us have two distinct styles – our written style and then our spoken style. Our written style tends to be more formal, we choose longer and more erudite words; while our spoken style is friendlier, less formal with simple language. To avoid publishing the fact that you are reading make sure that you use the spoken style when you write the speech. Short simple words, written in a conversational style will help disguise the fact you are presenting a written speech.
· Keep the paragraphs short also. Start a new paragraph every couple of sentences, and it is a good idea to alternate the text colour to highlight each paragraph. Make sure you format the page so that you do not have any sentences beginning on one page and running over to another. Start each page with a new paragraph. This will give you a natural pause to move to the next page. By breaking the whole into small paragraphs you allow yourself time to look up and engage with the audience by eye contact. Rest you hand on the paragraph you have just complete and when you again look down you will know precisely where you are in the speech.
· Number your pages. Yes! I have dropped my unnumbered notes and it is not something I can recommend to any speaker. Fasten the pages together with a paper clip and do not staple them. The aim is to change from one page to another as quickly and smoothly as possible. When changing pages do not pick up the page and place it behind the stack or turn the page over. The audience will see you do it, and as soon as movement catches the audience’s attention they stop listening to you. During the natural pause created by your end of page formatting, merely slide the page you have just finished across to one side, and continue with the fresh text newly revealed.
So if you must read your speech apply these suggestions to aid the smooth presentation and you will find that you can still give a successful and competent presentation.
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