READING A PRESENTATION WORD-FOR-WORD
- by Mark Porter
There are occasions when scripting your speech is essential.
Politicians will nearly always read their speeches before an audience. Why? While it is likely that they haven’t written their own speech, it is also very probable that they can’t be trusted with off the cuff comments and ad-libbing often associated with less carefully prepared presentation styles (wars can start that way).
Legally sensitive statements also need to be read. The lawyers need to know word for word what is to be said before the words may actually be cleared for delivery.
It is unlikely though that everything you say as a presenter will be open to such close scrutiny, and so manuscripts should be avoided if at all possible. If there is a section of your presentation that needs to be carefully stated you can rely on scripting only those portions of your delivery, returning to a more dynamic and responsive delivery style after the sensitive sentences are dealt with.
The bottom line is that many people resort to scripting everything they are to say out of an abject terror at the thought of speaking.
Being the center of attention obviously results in one being under closer examination than usual. Many feel that just the act of standing up in front of a group will blow them up in size like some movie close-up, magnifying everything they do and say, both good and bad (especially bad).
Hence the need to feel the security of a script allows the quaking speaker to eliminate at least one variable out of the horrid speaking experience – the spoken word. If it can be carefully planned and written out in full beforehand, then saying the wrong thing is at least one less thing that can go wrong.
Really though, even if you did say the wrong thing who would ever know? Only you. Your listeners have no idea what you’re planning to say before you address them. If you said something wrong it would be a closely guarded secret known only by you.
The very reason why inexperienced or less-skilled speakers resort to using scripts is the reason why they should be avoided. They take out of play the variables, the dynamic responses that you as a speaker will make to feedback from your audience.
Speaking before a group of people of any size is a delicious cocktail of human responses, a veritable tennis match of actions and reactions between you and your listeners.
You start by reaching out to them, letting them know you are on their side and have something of value to share.
They respond by communicating to you their opinion of your presentation skill, your qualification as a speaker and the worthiness of your message. This is all done through body language, reactions that you observe in your audience that give you the feeling of whether you are reaching them or not.
You respond next by varying your approach to them in an effort to strike a responsive chord, and so on.
Reading your speech from a word-for-word text removes your ability to thrust and parry with your audience. It removes the spark of spontaneity from your presentation.
It also absorbs your eye contact. You are concentrating on words on paper, ensuring you don’t miss lines or skip those all-precious phrases you have spent so long in composing. Your attention to your audience is only secondary at most.
Thus, talking from scripts is to be avoided if at all possible. But, it will not always be possible. And worse yet, you may be required to speak from a script that someone else has written.
How do you prepare to speak from a script in order to give a motivational and informative delivery?
Excerpt From: Mark Porter. “The Way With Words.” iBooks.
This discussion is continued in detail in “The Way With Words”, by Mark Porter.
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