How to Read Your Speech or Presentation and Still Sound Natural.

There are occasions when a speaker has to work from a prepared script. However, the goal is still to come across as natural and authentic while maintaining good eye contact.

To ensure you engage and connect with your audience, follow these tips:

  • Whether you prepare your script or it is handed to you, ensure you are very familiar with the material.
  • Break down the material into logical “thought-paragraphs”; one topic per paragraph.
  • Keep the sentences short, about ten words per sentence.
  • Exclude any words you would not normally use.
  • Annotate your copy to show pauses. Use a single Slash ( / )  to show a short pause. Use two ( / / ) for a longer pause, and so on.
  • Use different fonts, underlining, highlighting, etc., to distinguish different points.
  • Double-space the script.
  • Select clear fonts in a large size.
  • Print out pages on thick paper.
  • Number the pages clearly.
  • Do not staple.
  • Keep practicing until you can maintain eye contact at least 70% of the time.
  • Memorize your first 20 seconds so you can speak without looking at the notes.
  • Focus on vocal variety to avoid sounding robotic; tone, pitch, volume, etc.

When it is time to present, use the “Scan, Pause, Speak” approach.
Look down, scan the next sentence or two, look up, pause, and then speak.