How to Make and Use Note Cards in a Presentation
You have a speech coming up.
And you’re pretty nervous about what to expect.
One of the nervous thoughts is:
‘What if I forget a crucial point?’
In this article, I’m going to be a little unorthodox.
- First, I am going to insult note cards.
- Then, I’m going to share how to use note cards effectively in your speech.
Why the oxymoron?
You’ll see as the article progresses…
The Power of Your Memory
Nowadays, we have forgotten how powerful our mind is.
There are so many software and gadgets out there, that our memory doesn’t get the exercise that it deserves.
So, what happens?
We think we will forget something very quickly.
This perception wouldn’t be the case if we exercised our memory.
Where we actively try to remember something.
You’ll be surprised by how much information you can store.
But I get it, we are all in different stages.
You may be like:
‘Sure Armani, I believe you. My memory is powerful. But I still feel more confident having some notecards by my side.’
Sounds good, bud.
I’ll share how to use note cards for the rest of the talk.
But do one thing for me. Ask yourself:
‘If the notecards were to be set on fire RIGHT before I walk on stage, will I still be good?’
This is a profound question.
This question allows you to view the note cards as a servant rather than a master!
Prepare like that.
This will allow you to:
- Know your speech rather than just parroting the words in a sequential fashion.
- Add only relevant points to your notecards.
How to Create Note Cards in a Presentation
Note cards are typically built on index cards.
The sizes vary.
But a standard size for a presentation is 3×5.
Once you have the cards, identify the main points of the speech.
‘How do I know what my main points are?’
Fam, if you don’t know what the main points are then you need to practice some more!
Here’s my rule for practicing a speech:
Go by the 5x rule.
The 5x rule is when you aim to get through the speech 5 times to perfection.
Anytime you mess up, start back over.
It doesn’t matter if you are in the last 5 seconds of your talk…
If you feel as though you fumbled, start over.
Once you get through the talk 5 times, the speech will be in your subconscious mind.
By the way, getting through your speech 5 times to perfection does not mean you recite it verbatim each time.
Instead, you go through the main points in a rhythm that allows you to feel comfortable.
After your 3rd attempt, you’ll have a firm grasp on what the main points are.
If you are still unsure of what the main points are…
Then imagine I put a gun to your head and say:
‘Explain your entire speech in 20 seconds. If you don’t, then I’ll pull the trigger.
This will allow you to separate the signal from the noise much faster.
The main points can now be given real estate on your note cards.
Adding in Details
Once you have the main points, you want to ask yourself:
Are there any details that I should be aware of?
These details are normally:
- Important dates.
- Particular numbers.
- Important names.
By spotting which details are important, you can create a subpoint under the main point from the last section.
Avoid writing paragraphs or bulky sentences.
Keep the card lean.
Your future self on speech day will thank you.
If your speech cards are too bulky, then you will lose faith in yourself.
When you lose faith in yourself during public speaking, then you just read off the cards.
Keep it simple.
A sample point is:
- The subject of the speech: Why American football needs to be globalized.
- Point 1: History of American football.
- Subpoint: First football game played: November 6th, 1869 (important detail).
- Point 1: History of American football.
Lean, mean, public speaking machine.
Highlighter Trick for Note Cards in a Presentation
Sometimes, you may get through a few points on your card and be like:
‘Hm…. Which point am I on again?
In order to circumnavigate this, leverage colors.
Humans process information seamlessly with colors.
Color each major point a different color with your highlighter.
Point 1: Orange.
Point 2: Yellow.
And Point 3: Purple.
This allows your eyes to automatically gravitate towards a certain point, rather than standing on stage scanning the card like a dummy.
Final Words on Using Note Cards in a Presentation
Once again, I would encourage you to lead with memory.
‘If these cards were destroyed, can I still deliver my talk?’
Answer this question honestly.
Your mind is a muscle.
And it can be worked out for life.
Once you have answered the question honestly, keep polishing up the cards.
Aim to keep it lean.
Simple words which invoke a memory beat paragraphs upon paragraphs.
Public speaking is a mental sport.
You get better with practice.
View your index cards as training wheels.
One day, the training wheels will come off.
Book to Improve Public Speaking
If you enjoyed this article and want more practical tips on public speaking, then be sure to check out:
This book will walk you through A-Z of presentation skills.
You’ll learn the art of turning speech anxiety into speech excitement.
Notice…we aren’t trying to kill the nerves.
We are simply trying to alter our perception in regards to it!
You’ll learn how to design a speech fast.
No more overthinking and second-guessing.
You’ll learn how to practice your speech to perfection.
No more aimless words and droning on.
Each rep in your practice session will come to life with added efficiency.
You’ll learn what to eat on the day of the speech.
What to wear…
And you’ll get a bonus chapter on Toastmasters!
A lot of topics.