Lose The Notes – Revolutionize Your Public Speaking

CaptureWhen I first started public speaking, I used a stack of typed notes and read them aloud to the audience. I had the basics down, a well studied topic, highlighted sentences where more emphasis was needed, and an occasional pause with eye contact with the audience. It worked fairly well and over time I improved, but I still felt like my speaking lacked something. One week I picked up a book about speaking without notes. My very next speech was phenomenal. The audience was engaged and I was dripping with confidence. I received all kinds of compliments after that message and I never went back to a typed manuscript.

The preparation for speaking without notes is not that different than speaking with them. In both cases you start with studying a topic and creating an outline, but the last steps for each is different. With a speech with notes you would spend some time writing the document, careful to word things just right. You would then read it out-loud several times to check for errors. You could then highlight some important points if you like. Then it’s ready for delivery.

The next step for noteless speaking is to organize your outline on note-cards, with each card representing a point of the message. The last step is memorization. I know what you’re thinking, but you too can engage your audience through memorization (Tweet That!). It just takes time and repetition. The benefits of noteless speaking are amazing.

The first benefit is it allows you to more effectively engage the audience. When you don’t have to refer to notes it allows you constant eye-contact with your audience. People feel like you are speaking directly to them. If feels more like a conversation than a speech. You’ll gain the freedom to leave the platform and walk among those gathered to hear you.

A second benefit is you can more effectively use body language to get your message across. It has been said that only seven percent of communication is verbal and the other 93 percent is non-verbal. There is so much more to your speech than words. Let your audience feel your message through your expressions. Be animated in what you say. Smile, laugh, walk around, jump or lie down, but the more energy you pour into your speaking, the more the audience will receive.

Speaking without notes also forces you to know your topic well. I’m not talking about preparation of your topic but a familiarity with it. As you work to commit your information to memory you start to understand it well. It takes me about two hours to memorize a 40 minute speech outline. During that two hours I probably go over the material 20-30 times. when you get it into your spirit, you’re not so consumed with saying the exact words correctly, but it becomes something alive within you. The heart of the message will flow through you when you speak it.

Knowing a topic well brings confidence and confidence will be noticed by the audience. Speaking to an audience is a privilege and they deserve your best, so whether you speak with or without notes, always take the time to research, organize and familiarize yourself with your topic. Find something you can be passionate about and speak it from your heart.

Tough Problems Keep you Sharp

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A few years ago I started looking at the unsolved conjecture about twin primes and set out to find a solution. A Greek mathematician named Euclid proved over 2,300 years ago that there were infinitely many prime numbers–numbers that are only divisible by one and themselves (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, …), but it has never been proved that there are infinitely many twin primes.  Twin primes are primes that are only two digits apart like: (3, 5),  (11, 13), (18409199, 18409201).

There have been thousands of individuals over  several thousands of years that are far more intelligent than I who have never found a solution, so why try? I won’t delve too much further into the maths involved or the work I’ve done on this problem, but I did want to mention three benefits of trying to tackle a problem of this magnitude.

The first benefit of a hard problem is pushing your limits. When you first pick up a problem like this you quickly learn your limits and come to the realization that you know very little. Knowing your limits is a good thing, because it’s difficult to push past them if you do not understand where they are. As you begin to investigate your problem you’ll probe the knowledge of other and increase your own understanding. Maybe in the end you’ll become an expert in the subject, but you’ll definitely be more knowledgeable.

A second benefit of a tough problem is that it gives courage. When you stand before the impossible something changes in you. You develop an attitude that says, “I’m going to try anyway.” Many people give up too quickly. They say it’s too hard, or it can’t be done, when they should have said, I just don’t want to put fourth the effort. It reminds me of the biblical story of David and Goliath where the little shepherd boy faced an impossible task. The mightiest warriors in Israel failed, but this 16 year old won the day.

The third benefit is that it keeps you sharp.  A few weeks ago I was cutting weeds with a machete and handed it to my father for just a second. As he put it down to his side the blade barely touched the finger of his other hand and drew a line of blood. It was sharp and it did it’s job easily and efficiently. I think it’s the tough problems that help keep us sharp.  They keep us focused on the impossible solution always trying something new and honing current knowledge.

Maybe math is not your thing, but that’s OK.  I challenge you to find a hard problem, maybe even one deemed impossible, and set out to find the answer. You might have a long struggle ahead of you, but you’ll grow. And maybe, you’ll find a solution that nobody’s thought of.