The Real Reason Speeches are so Tough

Most of us probably dread giving speeches. Whether you are terrified to speak in front of an audience or can’t memorize anything other than song lyrics and quotes from The Office, there's a way to up your speech writing game. That way is through the perfect notecards.

    Often in class, we are limited to only a few notecards or we have to turn the notecards in, so we struggle with what to write on them. Another issue that we often face when writing notecards for speeches is that we write too much and too small. One more problem is that we don’t know the best way to utilize highlighters when writing out notecards for a speech. So here are a few tips that have worked for me.

    What to write: I usually start by reading my written speech out loud a few times so I can get the feel for how it should sound and learn where I want to add emphasis. I then get out my notecards and read through the speech sentence by sentence finding the parts of each sentence that are the most important or that trigger other points. I don’t write down something from each sentence since your speech should already be written in a way that flows from point to point and should “trigger” you to remember what’s coming next. Only write down what absolutely needs to be said in the speech.

    How to write: When writing notecards I always do a junk set first so I can figure out what’s going to work and how much space I have and after that, I rewrite them to make them more concise and less cluttered. If I’m limited to five notecards and I have to have a five to eight-minute speech I need to make sure I have enough written to remember the speech and stay in my allotted time. If I write too little I may be grasping for straws but if I write too much I will spend more time reading than speaking. I usually try to stick to around five words max per line, not including in-text citations.

    Highlighting: After you’ve written out your notecards practice using them to say your speech. Anything that you’re struggling to remember you should highlight. You don’t want to go too crazy on the highlighting or they won’t stand out or help you.

    Practice using your notecards: Your notecards won’t help you if you don’t know how to use them to help you. Practice your speech with just the notecards. Doing in front of a mirror or a friend can really help you get the hang of using your notecards and get over any nerves,

    Now having well put together notecards may not solve your problems but it can help you feel more organized, prepared, and confident. When you have one part completely solidified you can work on improving the other aspects of your speech. Now get ready to nail all your future speeches!