Whether you’re doing a best man’s speech at a wedding, a presentation in front of your directors, or delivering a keynote at a conference, there is one skill in public speaking that eludes most people:
The ability to speak confidently without notes.
Because so few people do it, knowing how to speak confidently without notes is a very easy way to blow your audience away. It immediately makes you look more polished, professional, and prepared.
Delivering a presentation or talking without notes is what every speaker should aspire to.
So, how do you become comfortable doing it?
Here are my top tips to help you speak confidently without notes.
1) Don’t write a script
It’s tempting to write out what you want to say word-for-word during the planning process. Don’t.
If you write and memorise a script, it will come across as unnatural. Because there is no room for improvisation, if you lose your place or miss a point, you won’t know how to recover and the whole presentation could unravel.
Use bullet points during your preparation instead. Write one for each key point in your speech or presentation, using 5 words or less. The goal is for these bullet points to act as a trigger for a story, fact, or key piece of information, to help you stay on track.
2) Practise out loud
The best way to learn to speak confidently without notes is to practise out loud.
Run through your presentation or speech from start to finish. At first, keep your bullet points close to you while you get comfortable with both your content and the delivery of it.
As you practise more, challenge yourself to start doing it without notes. Only go back to your bullet points if absolutely necessary, so you know you can speak without them.
The more you rehearse without notes, the more comfortable you will become.
3) Anchor your points to stories
Stories are much easier to remember than facts, figures, and statistics. They have a natural beginning, middle and end, and provide an impactful and engaging way to get your key message across.
When you are planning your presentation or speech, try and include stories that are strongly connected to your message, and then practise telling them.
As long as the essential details are included, along with the key message, you don’t need to get every element perfect. This will help you feel more comfortable on stage, and you will come across far more naturally.
Plus, your audience will find stories much more interesting!
Once you’ve got rid of your bullet points, you’ve practised out loud, and you’re comfortable with your stories, there is one more thing you can do to speak confidently without notes:
Internalise your content.
Divide your speech or presentation into separate sections – for example, split it by story, or cut it into sections. Then ask someone to call out a number or generate one online. If the number ‘3’ comes up, practise the third part of your speech. If the number ‘1’ comes next, go over your first story, and so on.
This way you become familiar with your content out of order. It doesn’t matter where you begin or end because you know it inside out and back to front.
Want some personal feedback before your next big presentation?
If you have a big speech or presentation coming up and you think you would benefit from some outside help and a different perspective, you might be interested in my 1:1 coaching service.
In every session, we will review footage of you speaking to pinpoint specific opportunities to improve content and delivery. By the end, you will be ready for anything that is thrown your way on stage, and you will have complete faith that you can speak confidently without notes.
If you would like more info on how this 1:1 coaching works, simply email Kyle@confidencebydesign.co.uk for more details.