Scripts: The root of all presentation evil!
In anticipation of a new blog.. here is one I wrote in 2009.. watch this space.. comments please!
- Don’t use speaker notes.
- Don’t write scripts.
- Don’t wear white socks.
- Why? Because you will come across as an amature!
Occasionally when presenters use a script they end up concentrating on it more than on the audience, which is a recipe for disaster. Presentations need to be dynamic and audience-centered. A script, almost by definition, prevents dynamism by compelling you to follow it. Therein lies the real problem..
When you use a script you ignore your slides, when you ignore your slides you drive a wedge between phonetic information (you) and visual information (the screen). That prevents Dual Encoding (understanding by the audience of what they hear and what they see at the same time).
Unless you are very, very, very good at presenting using a script won’t work well. (A professional actor can sometimes pull it off, and some TV presenters can read an auto-cue and make it look natural, but one only needs to see the show Have I Got News for You in the UK to see the difference between a professional and an amateur.)
So why do people do it? Well, like a number of things that people do to help when they are stressed, it’s easy. You have been reading since you were 3 or 4, and you can do it in your sleep (well, OK not really but it is easy). Reading is easy, and so using a script to help overcome stress is a popular approach – especially when your brain chemistry is being altered by that wonderful survival drug adrenalin.
Those that can do; those that can’t… read a script.