One of the „key factors“ in giving presentations is learning to prepare your notes for your talk. It’s not the “sexiest” part of a presentation, but it’s important nevertheless – especially for those who have not yet internalized the flow of their content.

Many speakers are tempted to prepare their presentation notes by writing down every word of their talk. This might be necessary for some at the beginning of your preparation, but the next step is what will make or break your presentation. If you transfer those presentation notes line by line onto index cards or PowerPoint slides, then you’ll probably end up reading your talk to your audience. And with 100% certainty – this will bore them completely.

Simply put, reading your talk destroys a good presentation. It won’t matter how much you’ve prepared or how well your talk is structured and logically coherent. As important as these are, they won’t overcome the harm reading will do to your talk. Just ask yourself, “Would I like it if someone read their presentation to me?”

How to prepare your notes

There are two steps to consider. First, you need to determine what points, from among many, you want to talk about. Secondly, you need to determine in what order you will talk about them.

Example: You will give a 2-minute talk about yourself to a group (let’s assume the other participants don’t know you  – or don’t know you well). To prepare, you might write down some of the things you could say about yourself:

– Where I’m from       – Where I studied       – Parents and Siblings       – Hobbies       – Family Status       – Current job

– Languages spoken    – Clubs I belong to     – Favorite foods        – Favorite music      – Unusual experiences in my life

– Religion        – Something unusual about me      – Family origin       – Sports I play       – Other spare-time activities       – Books I love       – etc.

Then, you will need to select the points about yourself that you will actually present given the time you have, and then arrange them in the order you will talk about them.

       1. Where I’m from

       2. Company and job

       3. Family status

       4. Spare-time activities

It is important here to write your notes using the fewest number of words possible, to be used as “promts”.  Typically, this would be 2-3 words written large enough to be seen at a glance –  so that you can continue to speak freely without having to interrupt your flow.

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