At our first speakers meet up a few weeks ago we were given a strict timetable of submissions: when to submit the outline, when to submit the first draft, second draft, rehearsal and dress rehearsal. And then we were asked whether we would be working with a script or from an outline.
The responses were instructive.
A couple of people said they preferred working from a script. To my surprise though, the majority said that they wouldn’t: that a detailed outline with prompts was their preferred way of working.
Here’s the thing: as a personal preference I tend not to write a script to follow although I will often write words, phrases, linking passages as part of the preparation process. But I had thought that maybe TEDx was going to be different. After all, speakers aren’t allowed notes and the timing is exact as are the guidelines for presentations.
Do you write a script?
Here are the good reasons for using a script:
- Where every word matters (and is maybe reported on e.g. Hansards) then a script works
- Where relying on memory is a risky approach and an unnecessary pressure, then a script can work
- Where many people might be delivering a similar presentation (not ideal but I know it happens especially in larger organisations where everyone needs to hear the same messages), then a script might work
- Where the speaker is inexperienced and wants a safety net, then a script could be an option.
But there are some problems – and I am guessing you have seen or experienced all of these at some point:
- A traditional script is written English and doesn’t always sound ‘spoken’ or natural.
- Inexperienced speakers (and sometimes speakers who are experienced) can get drawn into reading a script. The audience experience this as wooden posture, monotone voice and lack of eye contact and rapport.
- There is no flexibility to respond to the room, the audience or circumstances
So why would speakers not use a script?
Well, apart from maybe wanting to avoid the points made above here are some reasons people give me (some are more valid than others – see if you can work out which!):
- I want to be spontaneous, natural and ‘fresh’
- I want to deliver to the audience, keep eye contact and build rapport and can’t if my head is stuck in a piece of paper.
- I have all my main points on a PowerPoint so don’t need a script! (oh dear!)
So what will I be doing for TEDx? I prefer to think about prompts rather than scripts so my approach will be a combination of script and prompts used at different stages of the process
- Now I have a clear idea about the core message, I have drafted a high level outline in bullets (after creating a number of messy, colourful and bizarre mind maps!)
- I am now working on my own Pathway Planner (I share this with clients) to draft a structure and sequencing. Again bullets, fragments of sentences, shapes of paragraphs but no script yet! oh – and lots of post its!
- As the whole thing takes shape I will be working on the detail – practicing out loud, writing down and crafting the exact words and phrases. Is this a script?– sort of but certainly not a linear presentation of content.
- I anticipate that this process will be Rinse and Repeat until I know the presentation so well, the Pathway Planner will act as a prompt. Less a crutch and more a safety net.
I’ll let you know how I get on!
If you are interested to know more about scripting or specifically my successful Pathway Planner, give me a call or drop me a line.