Many of my students come to the workshop with the notion that reading a speech is unprofessional; they fear that reading will make them lose their spontaneity. This is the silliest thing I ever heard and completely impractical. An all-or-nothing approach will only serve to discourage you from ever taking the risk of speaking in public.
Isn’t it better to feel confident, using a written script? Why avoid an opportunity to speak because you are afraid you will forget what you wanted to say? If you do accept an opportunity to speak and you choose not to use a script, isn’t it foolish to run the risk of rambling on and on, feeling insecure and embarrassed? Is it any wonder that there are so many terrible speakers out there when people are taught that using a script is a big no-no? Of course you can read. Common sense will tell you that confidence comes from feeling secure and this can happen only if your speech is accessible.
A Listening Audience, Not a Reading Audience
The fact is people lose their spontaneity when they read from a paper because they prepare a talk as if it were a term paper. “Fill up as many pages as possible and you’ll get a better grade.” If the professor had to skim over repetitions and irrelevancies, that was his problem. A listening audience cannot skim. Go off the beaten track for half a millisecond and you lose your crowd. The audience tunes out, planning dinner, lunch, the weekend, counting the tiles on the ceiling...
Using the TalkPower guidelines will help you write such an entertaining script that your audience will be hovering over every word. Learning how to write for a listening audience, not a reading audience, makes all the difference. After you have been using a written script for some time, and have internalized what a real beginning, middle, and end are all about, you will be able to speak without a script. For the time being, if you follow the TalkPower Action Formula, plus the rehearsal techniques, your scripted presentations will be as well received - or even better received - than a talk done off the cuff.
An old wive’s tale maintains that if you read from a script you will sound stilted. Actually, you sound stilted when you constantly read with your nose in the text. The secret of appearing spontaneous lies in rehearsing the script so that you look up at the audience, then back at your script. Practice your talk looking at the text, then looking out at your imaginary audience, then finding your place and looking at your text again. Not only will you feel secure, you will appear charming, knowledgeable and in control.