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How To Deliver A Great Speech From Memory

Audiences can often tell when a speaker has memorized their talk. It’s almost as if someone has pressed play on the presenter—but when the speaker forgets a word or loses their place, you can practically see the tape unspooling from their brain’s cassette.

And yet, it’s undeniable that some impressive speakers possess the rare talent of delivering a memorized script while sounding conversational and reacting in the moment to unexpected events.

If you’re determined to memorize your talk, you’ll want to remember these three words.

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Four Tips When Speaking From A Teleprompter

There it is: your entire presentation, sitting in front of you on a teleprompter like a warm, comfortable, digital security blanket. Politicians use them. TV hosts use them. Why shouldn’t you?

The most direct answer is that speaking from a teleprompter is hard. If most speakers who read from a prepared script sound like they’re reading from a script, imagine how much tougher it is to read one from two small panels of glass, flanked on the speaker’s left and right sides!

Because it’s difficult for most speakers to develop a rapport with their audiences while using a teleprompter, we typically discourage their use. But in limited circumstances, teleprompters can remain a useful tool.

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How To Deliver A Great Presentation Using “Holes”

We frequently work with executives who open a practice speech with a statement along these lines: “Thank you for coming. I’m excited that you joined us today for this unprecedented announcement.”

The problem? They’re reading those opening lines from their scripts while looking down and making scant eye contact with their audiences. Here’s what I tell them when we review their tapes together: If a line intended to be sincere has to be read from the page, it will lose all sincerity.

That’s why we encourage many speakers using a script to insert a “hole.” Here’s how to do it.

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How To Deliver A Great Presentation From A Script

I’ll often ask a client who delivers a practice talk with a full script to do it again, but with a twist: I take their script away. Their second versions are usually better—and often include interesting information they omitted the first time. It turns out that when they’re not restrained by a tight script, they’re freer to communicate in the spoken language they typically would.

That exercise offers an important clue: If you plan to write a script, don’t write it as your first step.

In this post, you’ll find several tips to help you read a speech without sounding like you’re reading from a script.

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How To Deliver A Great Presentation Using Notes

Most of today’s presentations are delivered from notes, not formal scripts. Such an approach allows speakers to benefit from having the best of two worlds: a well-organized structure and a conversational tone.

Notes typically take the form of bulleted lists or outlines, but can also include a few verbatim passages for quotes or transitions that require precision. As you practice, eliminate as many words from your notes as possible and keep only what’s necessary to trigger your memory.

Think of those memory triggers like golf: the fewer the words, the better your score. In this post, you’ll find several tips for scoring with notes.

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How To Deliver Your Next Presentation: A Six-Part Series

The question of how you should deliver your presentation is among the biggest decisions you’ll face prior to a talk.

Should you go with the security of a script, which offers the promise of exactness? The looseness of speaking from notes, which makes you appear more “in the moment?” The proficiency of speaking from memory, which demonstrates your mastery of the subject matter?

Each of those possibilities, along with two others—speaking from a teleprompter and a hybrid script-notes option—has its place. In this post, you’ll find an easy question to help you make your decision.

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A Brand New Way To Practice Your Presentations (Really!)

I’m generally skeptical of new technologies that purport to make you a better public speaker.

But a useful new product, called VirtualSpeech, allows you to download an app and practice your presentations in front of a “real” audience. Using the app, you can practice in front of animated people in a large auditorium, conference room, or small interview space.

I’m not very tech savvy but found the product easy to use. Here’s how it works — and when it can be helpful.

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Five (More) Great Ways To Open A Presentation

Since releasing 101 Ways to Open a Speech last July, I’ve published 10 of the book’s opens for free on the blog, along with its full introduction.

For this post, I revisited the 91 opens that I’ve never published here before and selected five of my favorites to share with you.

In this post, you’ll learn how to earn the audience’s attention through the non-expert quote, the unexpected definition, the use of rapid-fire statistics, and more. Here’s to better speech openings that grab your audience’s attention from the start and lead to better results!

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