Using notes during a presentation if very acceptable. The use of notes during a presentation can be very helpful. Jotting down keywords and even phrases to lead you to the next topic of your presentation can make things go much smoother. This is most useful when you are speaking to a new audience or speaking on a topic that is fairly new to you.

Notes Are Notes

Notes are simple points that you can use during your presentation as reminders to the flow of your speech. They should not be a full written documentation of your entire presentation. You want to ensure you are not reading your presentation to the audience. It is important to keep eye contact with your audience while speaking, if you are reading from a script you cannot do this.

How To Prepare Your Notes

It is important to be organized and prepare your notes for use. There is nothing worse than having to flip through cue cards or note paper to look for something. This will make you appear very unprofessional and extremely disorganized. To keep the attention of your audience your presentation requires a certain flow. Here are some tips for preparing your notes:

  • Opening line and Message – Start your notes off by writing down your opening line and a one-sentence explanation of your presentation. However, it is more effective to have this information memorized to start off on the right foot. When you have a strong opening you will feel confident and able to give the audience a good first impression of you.
  • For Transitions and Major Points Use Phrases and Keywords – writing down key phrases and words will make it much easier to jog your memory on the next stage of your presentation. You can also add symbols for areas you would like to pause or engage the audience by asking questions.
  • Font Size – when writing your notes, make sure you make the print large enough so you can read it in the setting you will be in. There is nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of your presentation to squint to read your own notes.
  • Clear and Concise – always make sure your handwriting or printing is clear and concise to the points you may need assistance with. If you can’t read your own handwriting or printing this could pose a huge problem during your presentation if you need to refer to your notes.
  • One Page – your notes should be no more than one standard sheet of paper. If you can’t fit all your notes on one page, you’ve written too much. Having your notes on one sheet of paper prevents the need to flip pages and lose your spot on where you are in the presentation.
  • Write Down Reminders – it is a good idea to write down reminders on your notes like coffee breaks, lunch breaks, introduction of new speakers or the use of props or equipment.
  • Use Colours – for very important points in your presentation it is a good idea to use bold colours or even highlight certain areas of your notes. This will quickly bring your attention to those keywords, phrases and transitions.
  • Timing – writing down the time certain segments of your presentation takes is a great way to stay within your time limit. This may effectively change your delivery.
  • Closing Comments – including your closing comments in your notes will give your presentation a strong close and a lasting impression.
  • Practice Using Your Notes – when you are practicing your presentation always use your notes. If you don’t practice using your notes it could mean disaster during your live presentation. You must ensure that you are fully comfortable at all times during your delivery at the live event.


When you use notes effectively, they can be a great part of a successful presentation. However, always remember that notes are an aid to your presentation, they should not be the presentation. If you are speaking at an outdoor event, it may be a good idea to laminate your sheet of notes to protect it against any unexpected weather conditions.