Friday, 30 August 2013

Using the lectern and cue cards

Hi all,
Now that you know about what to do with your body, your voice and your words, it's time to look at what to do with those notes. You will have practised 13 times as if (you are there, at the venue) by the time you get up to speak. So, now let's focus on what to do with those notes or cue cards.

The most important tip I can share with you is: Ready. Aim. Fire. This means whenever you need your notes, you look at them in silence. That's READY. Next, you look at the audience in silence. That's AIM. Then you start to speak. That's FIRE.

This technique will help you connect with your audience, because every time you speak, you will be looking at them. If you have a lectern in front of you, it will hide most of your body, which is a pity. So, if you can, move to the side of it and only look at the notes when you need them by glancing across. If you have a mike, use the ones that allow you to move around and that way you can move right away from the lectern and only return when you want to have a quick glance at the notes. Never stand up with sheets of paper. If you are shaking, they will shake. If you hold them in two hands, they will create a barrier between you and the audience.

If you decide to use cue cards, they should be small, hole punched, tied together and only held IN ONE HAND. Why? So you can make natural gestures and the cards do not form a barrier between you and the audience. If you tie them together, they will always be in the right order and you won't lose one.

About dot points verses written out in full, I have no personal preference. If you have practised enough, dot points should be sufficient to trigger the next point. If you do have them in full, use large font and and highlight points you want to stress. Also, start a new line every time you want to pause.

Finally, here is a tip if you are in a venue where there is no lectern and cue cards have not been chosen. Pop the sheets onto a clip board. The clip board should be held in one hand and and you can still make gestures with the other hand. This is good for weddings outdoors or funerals at a cemetery.

So, keep practising ,as if, only speak when you are looking at the audience and make those notes or cue cards enhance your speech, not detract. One final word about learning speeches off by heart. For those who can focus and nothing puts them off, it might work. For the rest of us, I feel it is a recipe for disaster. If you do forget, you have nothing to fall back on. You will look up to recall and lose contact with the audience. And, if you cannot remember, you will  look foolish and possibly fulfil all your fears about speaking. Maybe develop a fear you did not have.

Let me finish with a story my dad told me about the time he used no notes. He was in a public speaking competition. He "pinned" his five points onto the five people in the front row. When the speaker before him finished, they all got up and left because they had come to support him. So, when dad got up to speak all the points had no anchor. He did not win that competition. But he passed on a love of public speaking, that has stuck!

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