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Should we use any notes in Presentation?

Steve Jobs Presentation

Have you watched the latest Steve Jobs’ Keynote Address at Macworld San Francisco 2007? Watch it. Get a feel on what is a great presentation. Spot how he builds up anticipation and excitement.

It is interesting to see couple of comparisons around the blogosphere with Steve Jobs and other guest speakers’ presentation style in the keynote. To highlight one, Presentation Zen has a great analysis on the presentation and a summary on bloggers’ comments.

To summarize his summary, not many people like Stan Sigman’s (CEO of Cingular) speech. In particular, Sigman uses 3×5″ index cards, and awkwardly reading and presenting from it.

Did Jobs use any notes? Yes, he actually used them for sections that require less dynamic, but more precision on steps – a product demo.

Take a look at Steve’s demo notes, in a close up shot.

As Garr at Presentation Zen mentioned the danger of using presentation notes:

• Notes destroy fifty percent of the interest in your talk.
• Notes prevent contact and intimacy with the audience.
• Notes create and air of artificiality.
• Notes make the speaker look less confident, less powerful.
• Make lots of notes in the preparation of your talk, but use them only in the event of a total emergency.
• If you must use notes make sure the audience does not see them. That is, “…endeavor to hide your weakness from the audience.”

A take home lesson? Learn and practice your speech, and stop relying on your notes.

On the other hand, notes are good if you need to deliver some accurate information, such as a step-by-step demo, so that you won’t miss anything. Just make sure you don’t read it awkwardly.

What is your story on presentation? Have you ever delivered a presentation without any notes?

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