Don’t let speech notes turn you into a bobblehead

I watched the video of Hines Ward’s press conference last month with mixed emotions. I hated to see him retire but loved that he decided to finish his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I loved what he said; I hated how he said it.

Ward had a well-written, emotional speech, but he fumbled the delivery by looking down at his notes and back up every few seconds. The movement of his head reminded me of a bobblehead doll, and it’s a problem I see often in speakers.

Actor Alan Alda has noticed how awful presenters are when they rely on notes, in his work as an advisory board member for the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. The best way to make people communicate with their audience well is to take away anything they might read, including PowerPoint slides, he said in a recent interview on Science Friday.

“Now that I’ve been teaching this, I will not go up even with a note in my hand to talk to a group of people,” Alda said. “If I forgot what I wanted to say, it was probably well-forgotten.”

Do you speak without notes?

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2 responses to “Don’t let speech notes turn you into a bobblehead

  1. Any advise for someone giving a speech and that emotional?

  2. When you expect to become emotional, keep your remarks simple and give yourself time. People will understand if you need to pause for a moment.

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