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Ditch your lockdown false friend and turn those notes into bullets. Try this experiment to see why….

Hands up who’s got into the habit of using a script for online presentations?

Hands up who’s worrying about or already struggling with the script/no script issue for real world presentations?

Well, you’re not alone. It turns out that many people have seen a script as a comfort blanket during the lockdown months, and it’s a hard habit to break. But we must. Because scripts (whether you’re reading or remembering) are false friends. Here’s why….

  1. When we create content in written form, whether using quill pen and parchment or a computer screen, we tend to construct sentences which are long and complex with multiple clauses and sophisticated language, which sometimes go on for several lines (like this one), and which we have the chance to correct, finesse and fine tune until we get to absolutely the perfect form of words, and of course these sentences work for a reader’s eyes because we can take our time to scan and linger and go back if necessary but the problem is, as I know from recording talking books, it’s very difficult to ‘deliver’ such sentences out loud without it sounding like a stream of consciousness – a style guaranteed to put your audience to sleep. OK – PLEASE NOW READ THAT SENTENCE OUT LOUD AND SEE HOW IT FEELS AND SOUNDS.
  2. Whether we’re remembering the script or reading it, it’s obvious in our eyes that we’re not actually thinking about the ideas. We’re going through the motions, simply saying the words rather than inhabiting the content and making a connection with our audience. We will sound robotic and overly polished and that’s not how human beings really speak. Audience – definitely snoozing now.
  3. Because the content is going straight from our eyes/memory to our mouth without being processed through our brain, we have no life jacket when something goes wrong. If we lose our place, forget a word, get muddled in the middle of a long sentence, it’s much harder to recover. And knowing that danger is lurking round the corner will make us more anxious.

So what’s to be done about this false friend who’s inveigled their way into our affections over the last months?

Ditch them and find a new, trusted and reliable friend – bulleted notes. Here’s why…

By capturing, in bullet form, only the essential content rather than all the linking words, we will be compelled to create the sentences afresh. The ideas and structure will be fixed but the actual form of words will vary each time we rehearse/present. NB, rehearsal is our other best friend and an essential bedfellow for this ‘notes’ technique.

We will be inhabiting the content; we will look and sound as if our brain is processing the information; intonation will be varied, there will be pauses and perhaps the odd stumble or moment of hesitation. Our audience will be more engaged. And because we are also engaged with the material, not seeking to replicate a perfectly crafted form of words, we will cope better when something goes a teeny weeny bit wrong. Which it will!


  • Problem – create written content (quill/parchment, computer)
  • Sentences long, complex, clauses, sophisticated language
  • Several lines (like this one)
  • Opportunity – correct, finesse, fine tune – perfect form words
  • Works for reader’s eyes – time scan, linger, go back
  • Problem (talking books) – difficult ‘deliver’ out loud
  • Sounds like stream of consciousness – guaranteed audience sleep.


I rest my case, your honour.

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