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All Ears: How Listening Helps Assess Audience Response

As a presenter, your main goal is to engage your audience.

Just because the audience is looking at you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re listening. They might just be hearing what you’re saying, but not digesting any of the information.

Everybody hears, but not all of them may listen. You may be asking yourself, “What’s the difference? Both actions refer to the brain registering sound anyway.”

These two have different meanings. Hearing is an effortless, passive occurrence while listening is a conscious choice, which demands your concentration and attention.

Before you hire a PowerPoint design agency to make your presentation, outline it according to the various listening styles and strategies.

Relationship Listening

Empathy, presence, and support are essential when it comes to this form of listening. The ultimate goal here is to develop a strong connection with your audience.

During presentations, this comes in the form of asking and taking questions— this type of engagement builds rapport. Eventually, this leads to a conversation with the audience where insights are shared.

Appreciative Listening

Sales pitches sell a product or service aimed to solve a problem. What better way to introduce or talk about these through telling a story about a similar experience?

When you incorporate storytelling into your presentation methods, you don’t necessarily ask for constructive criticism or feedback, but you are enforcing an area of appreciative listening as you engage your audience.

Critical Listening

Have you ever watched a debate? If you have, then you’d notice that the two opposing panels have an artillery of information backed by research, ready to rebut every point that the other brings to the table.

While you aren’t part of the debate itself, you are engaging in critical listening, which involves analyzing content and identifying the debaters’ objectives.

During your presentation, your audience will seek to weigh the pros and cons of your argument, especially when you’re trying to persuade them or change their beliefs.

Discriminative Listening

The objective of this listening technique is to focus on the sounds, which makes it the foundation of the other four. Here, the listener is encouraged to be more sensitive to the speaker’s tone, pitch, paralanguage, and speech rate.

This goes hand-in-hand with Comprehensive Listening, which is one of the primary methods of learning. It demands you to concentrate on the source and the information it gives.

The indicator of discriminative listening goes beyond words. At the beginning of your presentation, your audience will assess your body language, facial expressions, and even the outfit you chose to wear that day.

Apart from the topic itself, the way you deliver it is everything in the presentation space.

Just because you’re the speaker, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your part as a listener. You still have to, as this helps you determine which information should be included in your commercial pitch deck.

Everyone wants to be heard and understood. This is especially true for presenters who rigorously prepare for their sales pitches and business presentations. Acknowledgement from the audience during presentations means that you have successfully built rapport and established a relationship with them.

Your Power as a Presenter

Are you conducting a sales presentation any time soon?

Apart from having a custom PowerPoint presentation to serve as a visual aid, you need to be in control of the discussion as the speaker/facilitator.

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If you’re nervous, that’s okay because experiencing bouts of anxiety is normal when it comes to public speaking.

Everybody’s been through it at least once, but think of it this way: with presentations, you have the opportunity to talk about something relevant.

Introverts vs. Extroverts

People stereotype introverts as those who isolate themselves from crowds, minimizing their contact with other people. While they tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings, they make great public speakers.

Introverts have an attention for detail that is very empowering, especially when it comes to preparing presentations.

Extroverts, though they are more comfortable in the presence of others, can be just as nervous as other people before a presentation. They do, however, bring vision, assertiveness, energy, and the network needed to give them direction.

Whether you’re an introvert doubting your abilities in presenting or an extrovert fearing to go overboard, your credibility lies in your authenticity and eagerness to get your message out there.

Wielding the Power of the Presenter

If you want to be an effective speaker, you must fulfill the following:

Don’t rush—begin with an abstract.

Cluttered content will get you nowhere. Remember, a seamless narrative flow is the best thing that a presenter can provide its audience.

So, before you divide your presentation into subheadings, focus on the primary theme and come up with an abstract. This will help you stay on topic for the entirety of the discussion.

Internalize before delivering your message.

How you deliver your presentation depends on your mastery of the topic. While a well-made PowerPoint can certainly help you stay on track, you still need to know your topic by heart.

The best way to do this is to practice and internalize the flow of your sales pitch. While memorizing may seem like a good idea, internalizing your presentation will allow you to compare and contrast ideas in your own words instead of reading from your slides or notes. This shows your expertise on the topic.

Stick to your outline.

Starting your sales presentation strong will get the ball rolling. If your discussion is following the outline you made, then you can be sure that your conclusion can be easily tied with your starting remark. When you are able to connect your conclusion to your beginning, it shows mastery of the subject. Plus, this is how your audience can gauge your experience as a speaker.

Your purpose as a speaker is to inform people. It’s about helping your audience acquire and understand new information that they can apply in their daily lives or may need when making an important decision.

In essence, to hold power as a presenter, you need to have a complete understanding of your topic, commitment to your beliefs, and willingness to take the conversation further. These skills are applicable to all types of speakers, regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. As long you’re firm and confident, not only will your sales presentation be effective, but you earn more credibility as a speaker.

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References:

Attilio, Kate. “The Power of a Good Presenter.” Communiqueso. June 13, 2016. communiqueso.com/2016/06/13/the-power-of-a-good-presenter/

Danova, Ilinka. “Extroverts and Introverts in Public Speaking.” LinkedIn. May 13, 2017. www.linkedin.com/pulse/extroverts-introverts-public-speaking-ilinka-danova

Feloni, Richard. “A World Champion Public Speaker Says Introverts Often Make Better Speakers than Extroverts.” Business Insider. May 21, 2016. www.businessinsider.com/champion-public-speaker-says-introverts-can-make-better-speakers-2016-5

Gino, Francesca. “Introverts, Extroverts, and the Complexities of Team Dynamics.” Harvard Business Review. March 16, 2015. hbr.org/2015/03/introverts-extroverts-and-the-complexities-of-team-dynamics

Presentation Don’ts: Bad Presentation Habits

Most blogs would provide tips on how to successfully engage your audience through public speaking and visual aids, effectively garnering more investors and potential customers.

Surely, you’ve seen and conducted numerous presentations, but as stated on a previous blog post, spectators will always remember the bad ones. Oftentimes, even more so than the core of the discussion itself.

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Do you think there’s room for improvement in the way you conduct a presentation? Then, here are things you shouldn’t do during a sales pitch:

Starting with an apology

You’re late, missing a few of your discussion materials, your equipment malfunctions—these are just some of the things that can go wrong before you start your presentation. The usual reaction of speakers is to apologize in advance for how these mishaps may affect the presentation.

An apology sets a negative tone, which distracts your audience from what really matters—your presentation. Skip the minute-long explanation as to what the cause of the delay is and instead, handle it discreetly, take a deep breath, and start on a good note—begin how you usually would. This shows how you handle yourself under pressure.

Reading your slides/handouts

Eye contact and actively engaging with the audience is vital in making presentations effective. If your eyes are glued to either your slides or handouts, you won’t have a chance to interact with your listeners.

Glancing at your PowerPoint or notes is acceptable, but you must remember that knowing your material like the back of your hand is more favorable than relying on handouts because then, you’d be able to answer questions on top of your head.

Winging it

Stream of consciousness sometimes works on paper, but when you’re presenting in front of an audience, it isn’t recommended. If anything, this only makes you appear disorganized to your audience.

The more you stay off-topic, the less time you’ll have to focus on your presentation.

While winging it works for some, it’s better not to risk it and stick to what actually works: practicing. Instead of rambling on and on, which has the tendency to steer you away from your main point, practicing and internalizing your presentation helps you deliver information in a more concise and accurate manner.

Cluttering slides

Your slides should only contain the key points of your topic. When you present a wall of text, you’re wasting the usefulness of the tool. Remember: your slides are supposed to provide visual support to your claims.

If you don’t know which parts to retain, consulting with PowerPoint experts is the best way to go.

Forgetting to proofread the content of the presentation

Another problem is realizing that you have typos in your presentation when you’re already in front of your audience.

Once they notice these mistakes, you’re going to come across as unprepared or you’ve done your PowerPoint in a rush—both situations will not help you gain the customers you need.

Mistakes, when done repeatedly, become habits, and these are difficult to break when you’ve become accustomed to it. It’s better to take note of these tips before conducting another presentation so you can improve and be more effective.

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References:

Morgan, Nick. “Should You Prepare Your Speech or Should You Wing It?” Forbes. October 25, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2016/10/25/should-you-prepare-or-should-you-wing-it-the-perennial-public-speaking-question/#538f61b5c4fe

Spacey, Andrew. “How James Joyce Developed His Stream of Consciousness Novels. Owlcation. June 14, 2017. owlcation.com/humanities/Edouard-Dujardin-James-Joyce-and-Stream-of-Consciousness-Writing

Stachowiak, Dave. “Don’t Start Your Presentation Like This.” Coaching for Leaders. n.d. coachingforleaders.com/dont-start-like-this/

Dead Air: A Public Speaker’s Worst Nightmare

Picture this: you’re halfway through your customized PowerPoint presentation and you’re increasingly confident because your audience is responding positively. Suddenly, however, your mind goes blank and everything you’re supposed to say suddenly disappears.

Then, you turn to your audience and think to yourself, “What was I going to say again?”

Everyone has been in this situation at some point in their lives—while retelling a story to a friend or while discussing something in front of the class. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, it can be hard to shake off, but it is preventable.

How do you prevent going blank in the first place?

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

There are speakers that wish to finish their presentations in half the time they allotted, but that doesn’t mean that you should skim through your topic to achieve that.

While it’s important that you keep the language of your discussion at a level where everyone in the audience will understand it, it is possible to go too far. The more you try to simplify words and phrases, you may find yourself in a web of thoughts that is difficult to tie back together.

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

When you memorize your pitch, the way you relay your message to the audience becomes more mechanical, detached, compared to knowing it like the back of your hand, taking every key point to heart.

The moment anxiety kicks in, everything you’ve memorized will disappear. It’s easy to lose your focus during a presentation. Saying the wrong word or turning to the wrong slide can immediately distract you.

When you internalize your presentation, there’s still a possibility of losing your footing, but you’ll get back on track just as quick.

Just remember to rehearse as much as you can so it results in delivering your pitch conversationally. This makes it easier for your audience to pick up on the emotions that you’re coaxing from them.

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

Mispronouncing a word or stuttering can throw you off your game, but these should be the least of your worries. Correct yourself and move along. There’s no use dwelling on it and stopping halfway because you’re embarrassed—it’s normal.

SG_Dead-Air-A-Public-Speakers-Worst-Nightmare

Have you ever stopped in the middle of a presentation because you felt like it was all for naught? If so, you might be experiencing typical feelings of the impostor syndrome, especially if it’s your first time pitching in front of a large audience, as this is more likely to happen to those embarking on a new endeavor.

First recognized in the 1970s by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, and Suzanne Imes, PhD, the impostor phenomenon is a specific form of intellectual self-doubt, common among overachievers who are unable to internalize their success.

Talk to your mentors, recognize your expertise, and remember what you do well—you’ll be fine.

Many factors contribute to going blank during presentations—lack of confidence, over-preparation—and these may affect your effectiveness as a speaker.

Before the big day, take this moment to go over your pitch and leave the deck creation to business PowerPoint agencies to maximize your time. Breathe, internalize, and keep a level head always.

Presentation Nuisances: Handling Them Like a Professional

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first or nth presentation, or how confident you’ve become with your skills to engage the audience, one way or another you’ll have to deal with unexpected interruptions in the midst of your remarks.

Expect that how you handle these situations will be remembered more than what you said during the actual presentation. This is because people are programmed to commit emotionally jarring events to memory.

Humans possess the remarkable ability to conjure even the smallest details surrounding a bad experience.

Even with a well-made PowerPoint presentation, your reputation is always at stake when faced with interruptions.

Types of Interruptions

Nuisances during presentations fall under various categories, including:

  • Hecklers
  • Technical Problems
  • Major Disasters

Hecklers are those who protest to disagree or humiliate the speaker during a presentation. They get their point across by using the most unreasonable means possible. While they are rude most of the time, you cannot respond in the same way.

Your reactions may depend on who you are, especially when it comes to hecklers. All you have to do is find what works best for you. You can make it part of your act; handle it with philosophy; or even handle it with humor. While comedians can take down a heckler in a blaze of glory, some entertainers still think not letting them get the best of you is the mature thing to do.

What if the power goes out in the middle of your presentation or the tech malfunctions at the closing slide? While you know the PowerPoint like the back of your hand, such an event can still throw you off your game.

Peter Khoury of MagneticSpeaking shares that you shouldn’t try to fix the technology while you’re supposed to be giving a presentation. Instead, ask for technical assistance and start with your pitch.

In the event of a natural disaster, don’t panic. Remain calm and exit the building. This sends a message that despite the unfortunate event, you are still in control.

Staying Calm and in Control

While each type of interruption requires a different approach, staying calm and in control is constant. Never lose your cool in front of your audience, as this will make you look unprofessional and you’re sure to lose their trust and respect.

It’s easy to let these disturbances under your skin. Always be courteous and polite—maintain a level head and get your presentation back on track as quickly as possible.

Interruptions during presentations come in various forms, but if you can handle them gracefully, you’ll have no problem earning your audience’s respect. Doing otherwise may diminish the effectiveness of your presentation and you as a speaker.

Always keep in mind that even if you want to show your custom PowerPoint presentation design to your audience, it will only be secondary to your stage presence so be mindful of how you handle yourself in front of an audience.

Preparing for a presentation can be difficult, such interruptions can really grate on your nerves. Take it easy, handle it with patience and grace, and you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression.

Presentation Nuisances: Hecklers, Tech Difficulties & Natural Disasters

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first or nth presentation, or how confident you’ve become with your skills to engage the audience, one way or another you’ll have to deal with unexpected interruptions in the midst of your remarks.

Expect that how you handle these situations will be remembered more than what you said during the actual presentation. This is because people are programmed to commit emotionally jarring events to memory.

Humans possess the remarkable ability to conjure even the smallest details surrounding a bad experience.

Even with a well-made PowerPoint presentation, your reputation is always at stake when faced with interruptions.

Types of Interruptions

Nuisances during presentations fall under various categories, including:

  • Hecklers
  • Technical Problems
  • Major Disasters

Hecklers are those who protest to disagree or humiliate the speaker during a presentation. They get their point across by using the most unreasonable means possible. While they are rude most of the time, you cannot respond in the same way.

Your reactions may depend on who you are, especially when it comes to hecklers. All you have to do is find what works best for you. You can make it part of your act; handle it with philosophy; or even handle it with humor. While comedians can take down a heckler in a blaze of glory, some entertainers still think not letting them get the best of you is the mature thing to do.

What if the power goes out in the middle of your presentation or the tech malfunctions at the closing slide? While you know the PowerPoint like the back of your hand, such an event can still throw you off your game.

Peter Khoury of MagneticSpeaking shares that you shouldn’t try to fix the technology while you’re supposed to be giving a presentation. Instead, ask for technical assistance and start with your pitch.

In the event of a natural disaster, don’t panic. Remain calm and exit the building. This sends a message that despite the unfortunate event, you are still in control.

Staying Calm and in Control

While each type of interruption requires a different approach, staying calm and in control is constant. Never lose your cool in front of your audience, as this will make you look unprofessional and you’re sure to lose their trust and respect.

It’s easy to let these disturbances under your skin. Always be courteous and polite—maintain a level head and get your presentation back on track as quickly as possible.

Interruptions during presentations come in various forms, but if you can handle them gracefully, you’ll have no problem earning your audience’s respect. Doing otherwise may diminish the effectiveness of your presentation and you as a speaker.

Always keep in mind that even if you want to show your custom PowerPoint presentation design to your audience, it will only be secondary to your stage presence so be mindful of how you handle yourself in front of an audience.

Preparing for a presentation can be difficult, such interruptions can really grate on your nerves. Take it easy, handle it with patience and grace, and you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression.

Public Speaking and Insincerity: What Ruins Authenticity?

As a speaker, you always need to establish your credibility the moment you step in front of your audience. You want their attention so you have to earn it by being confident and showing them that you know what you’re talking about.

A customized PowerPoint presentation is just half of your performance. Outdated facts and miscalculations aren’t the only factors that can affect your credibility as a presenter, but the way you talk can also ruin your authenticity as a speaker.

If you’re conducting a presentation soon, here are a few things you should remember NOT to do:

Yes, smiling keeps you physically and emotionally healthy, but when you overdo it, it can be unnerving. If your audience notices this, they will not perceive this as genuine warmth, but as insincere and mechanical.

Resist the urge to smile just for the sake of smiling and instead, do it when you’re talking about something you and your audience should genuinely smile about.

Most—if not all—speakers have gone through presentation anxiety once in their professional lives. It’s normal, but fidgeting is one of the things you should avoid during a sales pitch. Not only will this make you look uncomfortable, but your audience will sense a disconnect between what you’re saying to what you’re showing them right away.

If you pause as part of the natural flow of your talk, that’s fine, but if you stop talking in the middle of making a point, your audience will start to wonder if you’ve actually forgotten what you have to say. Not only will this make you look unprofessional, but it will seem like you’re not an expert on the topic.

Stop using filler words. Take a deep breath and relax.

Every speaker wants to show their enthusiasm when presenting in front of potential investors and customers, but too much of this energy can come off as anxiety rather than ease. These behaviors include jerky movements, rapid pacing, and talking too fast.

It’s understandable that you want to avoid putting your audience to sleep, but if you go overboard, it will look as if you’re talking at your audience instead of to your audience.

The same goes for being too stoic. Listeners might misconstrue your lack of energy as mechanical and disinterest.

When you’re an up-talker, your sentences end with a rise in pitch, making your declaratives sound like questions. This can be confusing to your audience because it will seem like you’re unsure of what you’re saying, whereas, your main goal is to convince them that what you’re offering is the best option.

You might not be aware that you’re doing these things, which is why you need to practice as much as you can. Ask your peers to provide feedback, as these will help you improve for the big day.

Once you finish your customized PowerPoint presentation, study it. Make sure you know it like the back of your hand—don’t memorize, internalize—and you’ll be sure to have a great presentation.

Should You Memorize Your Presentation?

If there’s one thing people fear worse than death itself, it’s public speaking.

Professional speakers and experienced executives will often hire PowerPoint design services to focus on the visual aspect of their presentation. This way, they can maximize their time for speech preparation.

Sure, it can be nerve-wracking, but if done right, it will always feel fulfilling in the end.

Once you address your anxiety, it might make you a bit paranoid, but don’t worry about it—many people deal with this, too, and everyone has their own way of dealing with it.

While there are those who consider memorization as a means to reduce anxiety, others may find it difficult, consequently adding to their stress.

Dr. Genard, author of Fearless Speaking, thinks memorizing speeches is a terrible idea. To him, reciting from memory detaches the speaker from the audience. In addition, it makes them sound stiff and mechanical.

When stress and anxiety kick in, all the information you’ve memorized will disappear. These hijack the brain and reduce fluid intelligence—or the ability to solve problems. This was observed by Sian Beilock, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Instead of memorizing your presentation, rehearse as much as you can. Ask your peers to critique and give their feedback so you can apply these to the way you present.

Knowing the pitch like the back of your hand results in you delivering your pitch conversationally. This makes it easier for your audience to pick up on the emotions and reactions you’re trying to coax from them.

Break your ideas into bite-sized chunks and get to know the gist of each one, so you can describe them on your own later on. By then, it will become easy for you to play around with concepts to compare and contrast them with. This allows for a more authentic, on-the-spot performance, as you’re telling it with your own voice—making your expertise on the subject shine.

Darlene Price, a communications coach and the president of Well Said, Inc., stated in an article with Business Insider, that memorizing your opening is fine and recommended since the beginning of the pitch often carries a rush of adrenaline, empowering you to start strong and make a confident first impression.

The way you deliver your speech matters more than the content. No matter how interesting the information is, if you’re lacking confidence, it’s not going to come out right. Why sell your presentation short when you could be convincing people to trust you.

Above all, reciting a memorized pitch takes the authenticity and fun out of presenting. Custom PowerPoint presentations can provide the key points of your discussion, but it’s still up to you to carry the flow of conversation with confidence.

Presentation anxiety is normal and you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. The only way to lessen it is to make sure that you’re prepared for it. Accept their feedback gracefully, so you can improve and deliver your next presentation with more confidence and conviction.

Winning Your Audience Over: The Keys to an Influencing Pitch

One of the most difficult things a presenter does is instill certain beliefs or convince the audience that their product or service is the best choice.

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Apart from this, whether you hire PowerPoint presentation design services or create it yourself, you have to make sure that whatever shows up on the screen coincides with what you’re saying. Flow is important, as it contributes to how easy it will be to understand your pitch.

Winning the audience over may not be an easy feat, but it is, however, doable. Here are factors that make an influencing pitch:

Give & Take: Reciprocity

When you are pitching a fresh idea to an investor, provide a sample because not only would this make your presentation more memorable, but it will also help them understand your pitch better. In a way, it instills a sense of indebtedness, increasing their chances of complying to your request.

Reciprocity is useful in the world of sales, as this helps establish trust between you and your prospects.

What the Public Says: Social Proof

What makes you decide whether to watch a movie or not? Or if you should try the new restaurant in town? Usually, people take to Google and search for reviews before they try something new.

Most of the time, these influence decision-making and this is proof you should use social media to win your audience over.

Testimonials from previous clients give you an edge, as these showcase unique experiences provided by your product. In a way, these help your clients make informed decisions.

The 3 Cs: Commitment, Consistency & Credibility

The hardest part during a sales pitch is getting your audience to say yes. Gaining their approval contributes to the success or failure of your presentation, which is where learning the art of persuasion comes in handy.

Once you get your audience to comply with small requests, it will be easier for you to make larger requests, as they will be more likely to be receptive of these. Given that these are similar in nature to the original inquiry.

This was proven in a study conducted in the 1980s, where the “foot-in-the-door” technique was used. Martin Sherman called residents in Indiana and inquired about hypothetically volunteering and spending three hours collecting for the American Cancer Society. His associates called the same people three days later and actually requested help for the ACS. Thirty-one percent of those who responded to the earlier request agreed to help and this number is much higher than the 4% of people who volunteered when approached directly.

Your confidence and the trustworthiness of the content you are presenting invoke authority, reflecting your expertise on the subject, hence, making you credible. This convinces the audience that you are the right person to discuss a certain topic.

Moving forward, your custom PowerPoint presentation should coincide with your speech and vice versa. Not only do these factors apply to your speech, but these should also resonate with your visual aid, that way, your audience will be able to follow the discussion with their eyes and ears.

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References:

Swanson, Elizabeth; Sherman, Martin & Sherman, Nancy. “Anxiety and the Foot-in-the-Door Technique.” The Journal of Social Psychology. June 30, 2010. doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1982.9922806

McLeod, Saul. “The Psychology of Compliance.” SimplyPsychology. 2014. www.simplypsychology.org/compliance.html

 

Public Speaking 101: Should You Read from a Script or Not?

There are four ways to deliver a speech: reciting it from memory, learning it by heart, using notes for reference, and reading it from a script word for word. The method you should use will depend on the type of speaking engagement and the personal circumstances you find yourself in.

Memorizing your speech is rarely a good idea because the artificiality of it makes your delivery sound stilted. You may risk sounding monotonous when the natural inflection of your voice disappears. Also, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll deliver a seamless presentation because your focus is shifted from getting the message across to getting the words right.

Learning your speech by heart and trying to wing it without notes can work. However, it can be risky because when you lose your train of thought, you’ll have nothing to rely on to get you back on track. The best method is to use notes because at least you have something to fall back on when you lose your footing. It can also help you transition from one idea to the next.

While learning all this is good, we’re not really here to talk about the three ways of delivering a presentation. Instead, we’re here to understand the fourth: reading directly from a script. Script reading is a practice that is highly discouraged, unless you’re a person of politics who needs to deliver a speech exactly as it’s written. If you’re a student delivering a report or a business executive making a pitch, there’s no excuse for you to read from your notes at all. This is a basic public speaking convention that you should know by default.

Why Reading from a Script Is Discouraged

You may be tempted to bring a script to your next public speaking gig and read it word for word. It’s luring because you don’t have to memorize or learn your speech by heart anymore. Everything you have to say is literally in your hands. It makes you feel secure because, in theory, you can’t lose your train of thought. It’s effortless preparation-wise. So, if it’s so reassuring, why do professionals advise against it? There are plenty of reasons, and we’ll explain three of them:

  • A written speech rarely translates to an oral discussion. We don’t speak the same way as we write. Words that are written for the eye (i.e. grammatical, syntactic, generally well-structured) don’t always sound well to the ears. If you want to sound conversational, you need to write the same way as you talk.
  • A script shifts attention from the audience. Reading from a script requires you to look at your notes, and this shifts your gaze away from the audience and limits your interaction with them. As a result, your delivery loses the personal touch it needs. You’re basically just standing there aloof, with your audience feeling left out. They feel like they’re listening to a monologue rather than taking part in a dialogue in which their opinions matter.
  • Your words and actions are measured and limited. A script limits both your words and actions. You’re not free to use whatever manner of delivery you like because you’re corralled into the four edges of your cheat sheet. Aside from this, reading from a script can add a physical barrier between you and the audience: a lectern. This barrier will only fortify the walls you’ve built, ultimately resulting to a disconnect.

Planning for the Inevitable: Tips When Reading Your Speech

Without a doubt, no matter how many times you’re warned, you’ll always find an excuse to deviate from what’s recommended. So, to help you minimize the repercussions of reading from a script during a public speaking engagement, here are four tips for you to apply:

1. Employ the scoop-and-speak technique

For this to work, you need to print your notes in large font and have them written on the top portion of a document so that your eyes don’t have to stray down too far. Every time you pause, look at your notes, and before reciting what you’ve scooped, look at the audience again. Eye contact is crucial in public speaking. When reading from your notes, you don’t have to keep it a secret and act surreptitiously. Just chill out and act natural.

2. Draft a dialogue, not a declaration

Even if you’re reading from a script, you should try to not look like it. When drafting your speech, make sure to use common conversational words that sound natural when spoken. Use informal language; otherwise, you’ll just sound foreign and distant. Be mindful of the natural cadences and rhythms of spontaneous speech, and make sure to apply them throughout your presentation. To improve your vocal variety, you can adjust your facial gestures to match your words.

3. Don’t use your slide deck as a script

Your PowerPoint presentation is not a script, so don’t treat it as such. Instead, make separate notes that you can use as guide. You can also use the Notes feature in PowerPoint. It has a Presenter’s View that can let you see your notes for a selected slide without the audience seeing them. Just make sure to practice using your script beforehand so that you won’t get lost in the middle of the presentation.

4. Mind the structuring of your text

Break long blocks of text by using headings, subheadings, line breaks, and pauses. Use signals to help you break down the text and cue you as to where to begin and end, or what to stress and blend. You can even add instructional annotations along the margins to make everything crystal clear.

When you’re in a pickle and you have no choice but to read from a script, follow the tips above. However, in any other situation, try to explore other ways of delivering your presentation. Don’t limit yourself to the four edges of a page. Instead, allow your mind to roam free without straying too far from your core message. This is, after all, what being an effective public speaker means.

Resources:

Dlugan, Andrew. “How to Make Reading a Speech Not Like Reading a Speech.” Six Minutes. December 7, 2011. sixminutes.dlugan.com/reading-your-speech

Marshall, Lisa B. “Read, Memorize, or Use Notes.” Quick and Dirty Tips. September 23, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/read-memorize-or-use-notes

Matthews, Alan. “Pros and Cons of Using a Script When Speaking.” Alan Matthews Training. May 13, 2015. alanmatthewstraining.com/2015/05/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-script-when-speaking

Wyeth, Sims. “Do You Read from a Script? Should You” Presentation Guru. April 20, 2017. www.presentation-guru.com/do-you-read-from-a-script-should-you