How to Speak & Present Without Notes

Why would you want to speak without notes? Because you will look more confident and knowledgeable about your topic. You will hold the attention and respect of your audience as they recognize that you know your topic well.

A presenter that keeps checking his notes looks like he didn’t prepare or he doesn’t know the material well. That can damage your credibility with the audience. Imagine how badly the audience might feel when you read your presentation from sheets of paper or worse, your PowerPoint slides. Arrggh!

Speaking without notes is something that you do every day. Every time you have a conversation you are speaking without notes. So you know that you can do it.

Let’s discover how you can speak without notes while delivering a presentation to an audience. It’s simple and effective when you know how.

Naturally, the first thing you must do is to know your topic well. The knowledge must be in your brain.

Here are three techniques that you can use to deliver your presentation without notes or at least fewer notes.

1. Key Word Notes
The most common technique is to use point form notes. The key words serve to remind you of the sequence and the points that you plan to cover. While delivering the presentation you are simply filling in the blanks between the key words. You can do this because you know your material well and you rehearsed well. The challenge is to distill your presentation down to a few key words. Write those key words on a small piece of paper or better yet an index card that you refer to while speaking. Imagine getting a 30 minute presentation summarized in about seven key words.

2. Questions
The second technique is to prepare your presentation as a series of rhetorical questions that you pose then answer. The questions could be the most common questions about your business. You’ve heard and answered those questions many times so you can certainly talk about them. Asking yourself a specific question is also an effective way of drawing out the information from your memory.

A variation of this technique is to pose questions to your audience. Listen to their responses and then add your comments to fill in the gaps. This is also the most unpredictable method because you can’t anticipate the direction of the questions.

Both of these variations on using questions will make your presentation appear more like a conversation. Therefore you will look more confident and knowledgeable.

3. Props
The third technique to speaking without notes is to use props. Lay the props out on a table in the order that you plan to address them. The props could be products, tools and/or toys. You could even use colored pieces of paper, books and correspondence. The props replace your notes. They serve as a visual cue to you and add the show-and-tell flavor to your presentation.

You can deliver your presentation without notes. There’s no need to memorize it. Know your material and use these techniques and aids to speak without notes.

© George Torok is the Speech Coach for Executives. He offers presentation skills coaching and presentation skills training. Get your free Presentation Tips at To arrange for presentation coaching or presentation training call 905-335-1997

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.
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