Notes or no notes – it’s a big presentation problem

Michael Dodd Communications presentation is aimed at public speaking or pitching in industry but can easily be translated to speeches in court or presentations to clients


Michael Dodd:  'The question of whether you should rely on notes during your speeches is an important matter for everyone who gives presentations.
It’s a question I often get asked about in my role both as a professional speaker and as a presentation coach.

Amazingly, the notes issue has burst on the centre stage in British politics. This followed the speech by the Opposition Leader, Ed Miliband, at his Labour Party annual conference in Manchester which he did - as he has before - without notes. But this year Mr Miliband had to admit afterwards that he forgot to mention his pre-prepared comments on two vital issues because he was speaking “off the top of his head”. Party leaders can normally expect a post-conference “bounce” in the opinion polls after their big speech as a result of the massive media exposure which comes with it. But by forgetting to mention the vital issues of the economic deficit and immigration, Mr Miliband managed to get a “negative bounce” – with his party’s opinion poll rating dropping six percentage points after his address.

Like the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, Mr Miliband is generally an impressive speaker without notes and has the ability to remember long passages and deliver them effectively….though this year the reviewers were harsher than before. The biggest mistake Ed Miliband made was to release an official written version of his speech in advance to journalists. This made it easy for them to spot the difference between what he planned to cover and what he actually did cover.

Never do this if you’re not going to say what you say you will say!


My advice is that big notes on sheaves of paper that you hold in front of you make you look truly awful.
They sap your authority.
They block your direct engagement with your audience.
However small, un-obvious notes with a minimum of words or pictures can be a highly effective way of keeping you on track - if you just glance at them occasionally and at exactly the right moments (when you’ve ensured the audience thinking about something profound you’ve just told them).
Tiny notes allow you to talk rather than read your presentation and keep you connected with your audience.'

This video tells you more:

This video tells you more…