Monday, February 8, 2010

Palin's hand-written notes: For speakers

Your political views aside, Sarah Palin's use of notes written in the palm of her hand over the weekend--caught by cameras--adds a whole new layer to our discussion of whether you need notes or not when you speak.

This Los Angeles Times columnist hits the nail on the head for most speakers:
Most of us need some help when we speak in public. In high school, I competed in extemporaneous speaking, an event in which you had to analyze a current-affairs topic for eight minutes without much preparation. The rules allowed you to use an index card with a maximum of 50 words of notes, but my teammates and I prided ourselves on our ability to wing it without a card. (This worked against me at one speech tournament, when a judge ranked me last because a performance as smooth as mine "had to be memorized.")
The columnist notes he needs fewer notes today, as an adult, when he speaks.

So let's clear things up: Notes are fine, if they help your confidence. And it's fine if the audience can see you holding cards, a text or even a Kindle, which can help you avoid shuffling and losing pages.  But writing notes on your palm might suggest that you wanted to hide your notes even more than usual, especially for a high-profile speaker like Palin.  There's no shame in using notes, so why seek to conceal them?  I think she could have avoided the controversy and seemed more down-to-earth working from a text that wasn't hidden. Share your thoughts on how you like to roll--notes or not--in the comments.

Related posts:  Should you use notes--or not?

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