Practice Session #2

index cards photo

By now, the outline has neared final draft status and should require very few changes, but it still has its uses for this practice session. Bring the timer once again, but include note cards. Begin transcribing the outline to the note cards at this point using only short phrases and keywords that will jog the memory regarding what information to deliver. To demonstrate what this could look like, consider the main point from one of the sample outlines in Chapter 6:

  1. Part of attraction is due to what our mind perceives as physically appealing.
    1. The human body is the first thing we notice in another human.
      1. Females are generally attracted to males that are sexually appealing and have good fatherly traits such as height, muscles, facial features, some hair.
      2. Males are generally attracted to females that have sexually appealing features such as large breasts, waist-to-hip ratio, face, legs, and butt.
    2. Symmetry plays a role in figuring out if the person has good genes.
      1. When we see a person, we are subconsciously analyzing if they have the features that would make for good offspring. (Science of Sex Appeal DVD)
      2. The better the symmetry, the more it shows that a person doesn’t have any visible gene defects.

A note card for this main point could look like this:

–Attraction – physical appeal

  • Body noticed first
    • Women → Men with height, muscles, face, hair
    • Men → Women with large breasts, waist/hip, face, legs, butt
  • Symmetry – genes
  • Science of Sex Appeal DVD→ subconscious analyzing
    • Good symmetry – no gene defects


Notice that this speaker has deliberately written the notes on the card almost cryptically. Part of the trial-and-error process of learning to be an effective public speaker involves learning what basic keywords and phrases will jog the memory in the midst of high anxiety. One thing, however, is certain and must be remembered at this stage:

Note to Self

The more text you write on a note card, the more likely you will read directly from it instead of maintaining eye contact with your audience.

Helpful Hint

Use only one note card per section of information within the speech. For example, use one card for each point of the introduction, one card for each main point, and one card for the conclusion.

Not only does this minimize the number of cards needed, but it also provides a visual cue to another important part of the speech: a transition. Flipping to a new card when stating the transition provides the audience with a subtle nonverbal cue that indicates movement to new material.

Number the cards. This will help reduced anxiety if they get disorganized or dropped during the speech.

Speakers should only Include the minimum amount of text needed to jar the memory so that they can spend a majority of the time making meaningful eye contact with the audience. The only time speakers should write full sentences occurs when transcribing a full quote, at which point, the audience almost expects them to read from the card to do justice to the original source.

Also notice how the creator of the notecard above used a highlighter to identify the fact’s source? Using color, symbols, bold font, etc. offers a great way to immediately find important information when needed. The longer speakers look down at their notes, hunting for the material they need, the greater the chances that anxiety could begin to rise.

Speakers can also include notes to themselves regarding how to deliver the speech during certain portions. For example, as long as the speech’s topic is not heavy, serious, or depressing, consider drawing smiley faces on the note cards to serve as a reminder to smile once in a while, or draw arrows that point to the sides of the room to prompt movement or eye contact with the audience. These tips could prove remarkably useful.

After transcribing the outline to note cards, deliver the speech from the note cards, but have the outline nearby. Make a note of any difficult areas of the speech and come back to those parts later. If certain areas consistently prove problematic, edit the note cards to ensure they read as clear as possible. Check the timer after each practice round to ensure the timing remains steady and toward the upper-middle range of the limit. Once the speaker can effectively deliver the speech from the note cards alone, they should stop there and practice no further until the next session.


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Messages that Matter: Public Speaking in the Information Age - Third Edition Copyright © 2023 by North Idaho College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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