How to speak from a script
Often when speeches are given from a lectern, the speaker
uses a written script. This allows the speaker to feel more comfortable,
to speak more clearly, and to say everything that needs to be said. The
risk, however, is that the speaker ends up "reading" the script rather
than actually speaking to the audience. Speaking from a script requires
slightly different skills than speaking without one, and this handful of
hints is the first step to help you speak from a script, rather than
look like you are reading from it.
Hint no.1: Leave space between you and the lectern
Stand slightly away from the
lectern, but not so far that you are out of reach. This will make the
angle of your eyes less steep when you look down at your script, which
will naturally allow you more direct eye contact with your audience. You
will also have enough space to move your hands to emphasise your
Hint no.2: Use the 'eyes up-down-up' technique
When speaking, use the basic rhythm
of looking at the first part of the paragraph to memorise as much as
you can, then look at the audience and speak out the first part of the
paragraph while making eye contact. Before you run out of words, look
down at the script and speak out the middle part of the paragraph while
reading. Then raise your eyes to finish the last part of the paragraph.
Hint no.3: Prepare the script so it's easy to read
When preparing the final
script, make each sentence its own paragraph so you can follow the "eyes
up-down-up" technique. The last sentences on a page should never cut
off and continue on the top of the next page. This would make it
impossible to use the right eye technique. And finally, be sure to use
big letters (at least 12 pt), so you can actually see the text!
Hint no.4: Slide, don't flip
Keep the sheets of your script separate - don't
staple them. So when you are speaking, slide the pages aside, rather
than flipping them over. This will better hide the sheets and make you
look less like you're reading. But remember to put page numbers in all
four corners so that if you drop the script, it is easy to quickly place
them in the right order!
Hint no.5: If you're going to use a script, use the script!
There is often a
tendency for the speaker to wander from the script during a speech. This
can be risky because once you're out, it can be difficult to get back
in - the speaker may not only lose their rhythm and place in the script,
but they may also risk repeating themselves and looking more as if they
are reading as they search for where to begin again.