How to Use Notes When Presenting

I am often asked, “Is it okay to use notes when I’m giving a presentation? And if so, how?”

I think it’s fine to use notes in most situations (depending on the organizational culture), but you need to make sure you can use notes effectively.  
Here are 7 strategies for using notes while presenting, without getting confused and distracted by them: 

1.    Your notes are not a full script where you write out your entire presentation. Just outline your presentation in your notes, with particular focus on your opening, your closing and your key points.

2.    Limit your notes to one or two pages.

3.    Print your notes in large font, so you can easily read them without having to hold them too close.

4.    Print or staple your notes onto cardstock (heavy, thick paper), two-sided if necessary, so they don’t blow away and so you can easily hold them in one hand.  

5.    Include some comments on your notes, such as reminders to breathe, smile or pause. 

6.    Practice using the notes - actually hold the notes and say the words out loud so you get comfortable.  If the notes don’t work in your practice session, they’re not going to work during your live presentation, so modify them in some way. 

7.    Your goal is not to memorize your presentation or your notes – just get comfortable enough so you can say it a few different ways and still deliver your message clearly and within your time limit.

Yes, using notes can be helpful during a presentation, as long as they’re clear and succinct and you practice with them.
by Gilda Bonanno
Gilda Bonanno's blog