August 18, 2008

Where do you put your notes?

Although some disagree, I've mentioned here before that there's nothing wrong with using notes during your presentation. The trick is not to use them as a crutch, but to have them close by for reference, and to write them in a bulleted or outline format that is easy to skim.

But where exactly do you put your notes? This, in itself, seems to be a panic-inducing question for some. Holding notes is awkward and restricts body movements, so having a place to put them if you need them takes some consideration. Let's talk about some solutions, and one of my favorite tools.

1. If you've been provided a lectern, it's a super handy place to keep your notes. In fact, I'll keep my water there, my notes, my props, and anything else I might need to access during a presentation. But I move it off to the side and never stand behind it (this is another post entirely, and I can't believe I haven't written about it yet. . .).

2. If there's no lectern, but you have access to a table, then I recommend using a document stand like this one. It's slim and fits in a briefcase or tote bag, or in my case, the file box I use to carry my materials. The clip and line guide are removable, and the page can stand right on the narrow shelf. It's unobtrusive and doesn't block the audience's view like a lectern. Again, have the table off to the side with your notes within viewing range.

3. What if there's no lectern or table? Ideally, you will make these arrangements with the organizer of your talk well before the day of the presentation. This is a critical part of your preparation, making sure that all the equipment you need is available.

However, if something happens and you have no table or lectern, use a chair. I've had to put my document stand on a chair several times, and it actually works fine. This is a good reason to make sure your notes are in a large enough font so that you can see the words from a bit of a distance. A chair is a little lower than what's comfortable for me to read, but it works in a pinch.

Get yourself a document stand and you'll again never have to worry about where to put your notes!

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3 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

Uh oh. When I do use notes (I rarely do) I do hold them. I use them to my benefit though because when I really want to make a point I shake my paper at the audience! Perhaps setting them down on a chair or table would be less distracting :)Thanks for the tip, Lisa!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Shaking the paper at the audience -- love it! I guess you could consider it a prop at that point!

Jeremy Jacobs said...

I agree with Kari on this one. It all depends onm the length and type of your speech.

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