The Use of Notes, helpful or not so helpful

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Using notes is never a problem. It is ‘how’ you use notes that is crucial. For example, you are only doing a five minute speech, then it may be a simple three by five inch card with one or two hand written words. Of course, if you are doing a half-day technical workshop, notes that are typed and on several sheets may be needed.

One key consideration to remember is the use of notes should never interfere with the connection between you and your audience. If your notes are small, compact and hard to read, you may lose your eye contact with your audience once too often. In this case, notes that are typed with a large font, on several numbered pages and can be read three to four feet away may be the best. This will allow you to glance quickly at these notes and still maintain eye contact with your audience.

Remember to think of notes as another tool to connect with your audience and not as a distraction.

The Unspoken Agenda Between the Audience and Speaker.

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During most speeches, there is an agenda between the speaker and the audience. Speakers may want to have the audience ‘do something’ or ‘take some sort of action.’ They are going to present facts, figures and anecdotes to convince the audience on why they should. If done correctly, there will be action on the part of the audience.

On the other hand, the audience is making a decision on whether not this is something they want to do. They will take the information given and decide if this is valuable to them and their time will not be wasted. During the final second if the speaker did everything correct, the audience will say; “This speaker is absolutely correct and I need to do this!”

Some presentations have no impact on their audiences because this idea is not taken into consideration. To be successful in a presentation think of your ideas as sharp arrows shot by a bow to the bull’s eye, rather a scatter gun approach.

Follow the Bouncing Ball

bouncing ball

One potential problem for some speakers is keeping track of where they are going in their presentation. One method is using notes. These notes provide a roadmap of where to go. Of course if you accidently shuffle your notes, you may put them out of order. If the font is small, they may be hard to read. Notes have advantages and dis-advantages.

Another simple method is to use a written outline. Then memorize this outline and turn it into a mind map. As you speak you can visualize this mind map to see where you are going in your speech. Of course, making the mind map overly complex defeats your original purpose. As you speak you can mentally see your major points and pretend there is a bouncing ball going from one point to another. Your minor points can be simply just words and your bouncing ball can go from one point to another as if you were watching subtitles on a movie screen.

The key is having a simple and effective method to lead your audience.

Your Elevator Speech


You’re waiting for the elevator and someone joins you. You strike up a conversation with light chatter, then the elevator arrives. You both enter and select floors: you’re going to three, your fellow rider is going to two. As the elevator door closes, you get the question, “What do you do?”

Fumbling for words, you start, “Well…I…”, and then the elevator door opens. Your fellow rider gets out, quickly, never to be seen again. Whatever hope you had for revenue generation with that person dies with the door closing. Before the realization of this communication failure sets in, the elevator door opens at your floor. Now, you must pick up the pieces and recover before your next encounter craters before you.

What could have prevented that experience? The answer is: Your Elevator Speech.

The Elevator Speech is a 6-12 word blast that conveys the essence of your mission to potential customers. Its intent is to produce the “Scooby Doo Effect”: where Scooby quickly turns his head and shouts, ”shoink?!” Once you have their attention, you have them on your side, and the ball is rolling.

Sayings like, “I’m a motivational speaker”, or “I build web sites” are not Elevator Speeches, although they do meet the word count criteria. But “I inspire people to climb mountains”, or “My students produce Award Winning Web Experiences” could be.

Examine where you are and why I should choose you over the hoard of people who claim they are who you are. Give me a reason to choose you. Give me that ”shoink?!” Moment. Start working on Your Elevator Speech NOW!