Speaking Without Notes

My greatest fear in speaking came to reality for me Sunday. I forgot my speaking notes for both my class and my sermon!  I did not realize this had happened until I got up to teach the class; it was too late to drive the twenty minutes to my house to retrieve them. What does a speaker do when he forgets?  I was able to practice some of the principles I share in my speeches and seminars on public speaking.

Putting into practice my suggestions on preparation was a huge help. I had spent several hours during the week preparing for both programs. I always work hard to have a few simple and specific main ideas to communicate to my audience. I found several resources and went over my material several times making notes and typing the outline I wanted to speak from.

On Sunday morning I spent an hour going through my notes and thinking about the audience and how I wanted to handle possible questions in the class and how to use my slides for greatest impact in my sermon.

I also spent time praying that I would have a good memory of what I had prepared to say and that God would give me common sense in dealing with the unexpected from the audience or surroundings.

My philosophy is never to make excuses about my speaking, so I did not mention that I had forgotten my notes. When I mentioned this fact to a couple of people afterwards, each said they could not tell any difference even though they noticed I had no notes. I spoke my allotted time in both settings.

What made me forget my notes when I double and triple check before I leave for a speaking engagement?  Cream puffs!!  Not just any cream puffs, but the ones we had purchased at a bakery that only makes them around Oktoberfest. I was carefully placing them in the trunk of our car for a lunch gathering later that day. Yet another time when food got in the way of more important things!

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 steveboyd111@gmail.com.

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