Aug 4, 2022
Today we’re talking about whether you should use notes when you present.
The struggle is real. If you’ve presented, you’ve probably wondered how is it OK to use notes? Am I going to look like a dork if I use notes? Will people think I don’t know what I’m talking about if I use notes? Or have you ever tried to use notes only to find yourself lost in the jumble of your own incoherent writing? Maybe you’ve watched someone else use notes and thought they did a terrible job. I hear you, and I’ve had so many of the same thoughts.
Asking yourself about using notes is a good idea. And there
isn't a one-size-fits-all answer; you're not a robot. Not all
presentations are created equally, and context matters. So a better
question to ask is, "Do I need to use notes?" I object to the word
"should" as it's often associated with shame, and lord knows
presenting can be stressful enough that we don't need to add
shaming ourselves to the mix. Using notes
isn't good or bad; it's context-dependent, and it's up to you to determine whether or not to use them.
You may need to use notes because you're:
-new to the content you're delivering
-anxious and having notes makes you feel better
-covering a lot of material over a long period of time and memorization isn't possible
You may not need to use notes because:
-you've mastered the content and flow of the presentation
-you memorized for a specific purpose (e.g., a TEDx talk)
-you've practiced enough to deliver without them
I see folks who underestimate and overestimate their ability to speak without notes, and both types of speakers suffer for it.
So what's my final answer on notes?
It's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Practice enough that you feel comfortable enough to make it through with little to no use of your notes but have them at the ready just in case you get off track.
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LinkedIn Alex Perry