Cue cards are the worst kind of prompt you can use for your speech or presentation.
In this post I’m going to show why cue cards will destroy your delivery, then I’ll give you some effective alternatives.
What’s wrong with cue cards?
Cue cards, by their nature, prevent you talking to your audience.
When you use cue cards as prompts you are forced to look down regularly. You are forced to shuffle. Even worse, you are forced to read!
To deliver an engaging and effective speech it is necessary to talk to the audience in a conversational tone. Cue cards force you to do everything that goes against natural conversation.
Take, for example, a regular conversation you are having with a friend. As you talk to your friend Mary, she seems to regularly disengage from the conversation. As she begins talking, she looks down at her hands and appears to be searching for something. She occasionally glances up at you. Something just doesn’t feel right.
Cue cards prevent a speaker from connecting with their listeners. Eye contact and gestures suffer markedly.
What’s the alternative to cue cards?
There are many alternatives to cue cards. They take the form of better preparation, and visual prompts.
The main problem with cue cards are the volume and the fact we fill them with text. They are better than reading a script, but only by a little.
To avoid cue cards here are some ideas:
1. One-sheet keywords
Instead of cue cards, which you have to shuffle, use one sheet of paper you can lay down on the desk or lectern.
On the sheet of paper write one keyword for each agenda point you will talk about in your speech.
When you complete talking about a point, glance at the sheet for your next keyword and then commence talking about that point.
If you are presenting a large deck of slides consider printing handouts of the slides (6 or 9 to a page) and placing that on the desk in front of you. Each slide acts as a prompt for what you will be talking about and this improves your transitioning from one slide to another.
2. Know your subject and plan in advance
It’s not sexy, but knowing your topic really well will ensure you deliver an amazing speech.
Check out this blog post for more reading about how to memorize your speech.
3. Use mnemonic reminders
When you are really busy it’s tough to remember what you need to say in your speech.
Commit every point to memory use mnemonic reminders.
Check out this blog post for more reading about how to memorize the main points of your speech.
Maybe you don’t feel mnemonic reminders work for you. Why not try images?
On a piece of paper draw a simple image which represents each point you need to talk about in your speech. Put the paper on the desk or lectern in front of you and you have an at-a-glance reminder of what you need to talk about.
You’re not really a loser if you use cue cards, but there are better ways of remembering what you need to need to say in your speech.