Is the Cue Card Still Relevant?

You would think that the cue card would be obsolete with all the technology available today. As speakers, announcers, and performers, why should we need notes on cards as we communicate with an audience?  According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the cue card is still relevant for certain performers.

“Saturday Night Live” uses the services of Wally Feresten to hold the cue cards they read from. “30 Rock” is another popular program that uses Wally.

Cue CardEven though the cue card holders cost more than the teleprompter, the personal touch is important. As Katherine Rosman writes, “Attuned to the rhythms of each actor, Mr. Feresten lifts the cards and drops them into the hands of an assistant. He never looks away from the performer.”

He often rehearses extensively with the performers, which helps him anticipate what they will be doing.

Let’s not get so caught up in the technology of communicating that we forget the impact of the personal touch. John Naisbitt in his book Megatrends, as far back as 1982, coined the phrase, “High tech, high touch” to stress that the human element will never be eliminated. You still need the soft skills of people instead of more software to be successful, whether you are giving a presentation or conducting a job interview.

As speakers, we don’t want to rely on PowerPoint as a substitute for the personal touch the speaker gives to content. His or her ability to connect with the audience cannot be replaced by a YouTube clip. Texting or emailing a program chair is certainly helpful in gaining information about the audience. But most of the time you want to follow up before your speech with a phone call or have a conversation over coffee if the venue is local.

Don’t minimize the human part of communication. The competitive edge in the market place may not be the latest in a software program, but rather hearing in person what he or she has to offer or suggest.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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