Speaking With A Script

Warning! Speaking from a script may seriously damage your speech.

Maybe you shouldn’t read this post. Only speak from a full script if you are required to do so. Otherwise, use speech notes or, even, no notes at all.

Why Have A Full Speech Script?

Most of us will never need to deliver a fully scripted speech. But if you are in a role where your speeches are released to the press in advance of delivering them, you will need a full script. And you’ll have to stick to it.

It may be that you work in a large organisation and different members of management have to deliver the same speech to different parts of the organisation.

The problem is that the speech has been written by someone else and you’ll be delivering their words but you’ll need to make them sound like yours.

Why not have a speech script?

Surely speaking from a script is easier isn’t it?

Well, no actually.

OK, let’s qualify that.

Speaking with a full script allows you to just stand up and read the words.

If you want to sound boring and just read from notes, this is the way to go. You can stare at the script rather than the audience. In fact, you don’t really need an audience, why not just bore yourself and save them the pain?

You don’t even need to know what you’re talking about, so this is a great way to deliver a speech if you know nothing about the subject.

Unfair?

Perhaps the picture portrayed is a little over the top. But if you’ve listened to lots of speeches or presentations, you’ve probably encountered the speaker who reads from their notes and makes little attempt to connect with the audience.

Worse, you’ve endured a PowerPoint presentation where the speaker has the script on slides and turns their back on you to read them. You and everyone in the audience reaches the bottom of the page before the presenter gets half-way.

So the obvious advice is don’t put words on slides and don’t speak with a script.

However, if you have no choice but to read from a script, here’s some guidance on how to do it well.

Where to start?

A good start is to know the subject. Or at least to understand sufficient about it to feel comfortable with speaking about it, albeit with the help of a script.

If you have young children, you probably read to them. And most likely, you vary your voice to represent different characters and to bring the story to life. Whether a children’s book or something a little more grown up, try reading a section out loud. Then read it again, this time trying to add emphasis where appropriate. Maybe slow down for the serious bits and speed up for any exciting elements. Briefly pause at the end of sentences. Include longer pauses between paragraphs.

You’ll probably mess up and get the emphasis in the wrong places, mis-read words or even lose your place. The latter problem is less likely to occur in books designed for younger children as they tend to have less text and a larger font.

The Script

That’s story-time over. Now for the speech script.

Read the script a couple of times to familiarise with it.

Then try reading it out loud. As with the book, or any other speech, you need to use voice variation to add interest and emphasis. To be convincing, it needs to sound as though it’s your speech, rather than just something you are reading.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to access the script to adjust it to suit your delivery. If abbreviations have been used, you may be more comfortable with the full word when reading.

And it may help to leave spaces where you want to pause.

Maybe change the size of the font to highlight voice changes. Say this louder. Or space out words to indicate a slower section.

A large font and well-spaced lines make it easier to scan the text, more or less in your peripheral vision. That way you’ll be able to maximise eye contact with the audience. And then they may well not realise that you have a script.

And longwinded, complex sentences with grandiloquent wording can be exceedingly difficult to scan and read compared with simple, shorter ones can’t they?

See what we mean?

If you can’t edit the layout, you can always highlight sections with a marker pen.

Hopefully you’ll have had enough time to rehearse the speech until you almost know it by heart.

The Big Day

The time has come to deliver the speech.

Try to find time to read through it one more time before going on stage.

Feel confident that you are familiar with what you are going to read and how you are going to use your voice to turn it from mere words into a compelling presentation.

Take your time and don’t forget the pauses. Look at the audience as much as you can. Eye contact is particularly important when delivering key points in the speech. It emphasises that you are speaking directly to the audience. That it’s you speaking, not a scriptwriter.

A Final Note

Hopefully you are not required to speak from a script and have read our blog posts on speech notes or speaking with no notes.

If you do have to use a full script, try to amend it to make it more readable.

You should always rehearse a speech or presentation before delivering it. But if you have to read from a script, then you need to practise until you know it inside out and can deliver it word perfect just by scanning the words on the script.

If you will be speaking with the aid of an autocue or teleprompter, you still need to practise as much as possible, so get hold of a paper copy of the speech for rehearsal. And make sure to have at least one run through using the technology.

 

If you want to become a polished speaker, with or without a scipt, then find a speakers’ club near you to aid your development as a confident and capable communicator. If you are in the Bromsgrove area, why not book a taster evening with us?

 

Not near Bromsgrove? Then the Association of Speakers Clubs or Toastmasters may have a club near you.

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