Notes from the stage at EuroIA. Literally.

 by Martin Belam, 29 September 2010

Amongst all the tweets that surrounded my talk at EuroIA last week was one that revealed one my public speaking techniques - to have my speaker's notes on the stage in front of me.

My presentation 'setlist' spread out on the stage

Photograph by Karmen Mlinar

I usually speak without notes if I'm doing a short talk, but for something like EuroIA I was talking for 40 minutes with 70+ brand new slides. In that kind of situation, what I do is print out a set of one of the 'handout' views from PowerPoint, with images of 6 of my slides on each sheet of A4.

Setting up my EuroIA presentation

Photograph by Karmen Mlinar

I find that having the whole presentation laid out in front of me really helps. At any given point I can see exactly how far I am in my talk, and I know which slides are coming up next.

I also find that it helps me to remember to make connections between slides, as I am visually reminded to remind my audience of a slide they saw earlier in the talk.

My 'Portable IA kit' slide - photograph by Theba Islam

Photograph by Theba Islam

Sometimes there are points that I want to make alongside a particular slide that are slightly at a tangent from the main text or images. A quick note underneath the relevant image on the print-outs is usually enough to pop the thought into my head at the right moment. This is particularly useful in a conference setting where you might want to make a link with something another speaker has said earlier in the proceedings.

Print outs of my presentation with my notes on them

My print-outs with added notes - you can see I wanted to remember to reference Oliver Reichenstein's comment earlier in the day about 'an army of IAs'.

Mind you, it works best when you are giving your presentation from a stage where it can't be overseen. Otherwise, with human curiosity being what it is, the front row of the audience will inevitably be trying to read ahead, upside-down.


Great idea Martin, but God forbid, if someone should open the door and a gust of wind should blow in. I have lost lots of papers that were neatly stacked that way. Or someone decided to turn on the ceiling fans. Just sayin'

Well make sure you dont mix up the papers , just kidding.. good one.

That's a lot of pages. I see you come prepared.

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