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Tips for speaking from a Manuscript
- Write your speech for the ear.
It should be prepared with simple words, short sentences, and the rhythm of
conversation. As you work on the speech, keep saying the line out loud,
listening for the rhythms of oral style. If possible, use a tape recorder
to record your first draft. Listen to yourself to find the awkward phrases
that need revision.
sure your manuscript is easy to read. Use wide margins and double or triple space between
lines. Use a large font that can be deciphered at a glance. Do not
use all capital letters, since research has shown that they are harder to
read than a combination of capital letters and low-case letters. Print the
manuscript on bond paper that will not crinkle or roll up at the edges.
- Do not
recite the manuscript word for word when you deliver the speech. Instead, look down at the page,
“photograph” a phrase in your mind, and deliver the phrase. Try not to
speak when your eyes are fixed on the page. Talk through the text,
rather than worrying about saying every word just as it is written. You
are the only person who will know when the speech departs slightly from
try to “photograph” too much text at a time. Let your eye record what you
can remember comfortably, then look up and speak to the audience. Break
sentences into oral chunks. Strive for bite-sized groups of words that are
comfortable to utter in one breath.
- Don’t be afraid to pause
between statements. At first, this may feel awkward, but frequent
pauses are a normal part of everyday conversation and they will not seem
unnatural to your audience.
eye contact with your audience while you are speaking. Look for someone
who seems to be listening intently and speak to that person. Then switch
your attention to another part of the room and engage someone else’s gaze.
The quickest way to lose your audience is to spend the entire speech staring
at your manuscript in an effort to recite every word just the way it is
- Use vocal variety to give your
speech impact. Your words must be given time to sink in and to
register with the audience. Remember that your listeners cannot see your
can only hear it.
- Mark your speaking text to
indicate places where you want to speed up, slow down, speak louder or
softer, pause, and the like. There is a key word in every line. Find that
word, underline it on your text, and be sure to give it proper emphasis
when you speak.
Delivering a speech effectively from manuscript takes time and effort. In
many ways, it is harder than speaking extemporaneously. The more you
practice, the more likely you are to present the speech with strong eye
contact and a conversational tone.
is extremely useful information. Remember that this speech should be dramatic.