When you give a presentation, do you rely on your memory, or written prompts to keep you on track? In Why you should re-consider using your smart phone for speaking notes I explain why I don’t recommend you use a mobile phone to store your speaking prompts.
If, however, you absolutely must use your smart phone for notes, here are four things you should do:
1. Make sure your mobile phone is turned off, and in airplane mode.
It should be obvious why you’d silence your device on stage. But is airplane mode necessary? Answer: Absolutely. The nano-second of distraction when a notification appears on your screen is enough to lose your audience.
2. Don’t hold your phone in your hand when you walk on stage.
Nothing shouts social media addiction like a phone you can’t put down. The moment you walk in front of your audience, you want to give the impression you are ready for them. Keep your phone in your pocket until you need it* or, carry it with other props, such as a book or folder, so it looks like official speaking apparatus.
3. Tell your audience you’ll be using your phone for notes.
Help the crowd see your mobile phone as a boring, basic note keeping device, rather than the multi-media attention-grabber it is for most of us – simply by explaining what you will use it for. I occasionally use my phone as a clock when I deliver training; my go-to explanation: “I’m just using this to keep time”.
4. After referring to your phone, look up and take in the whole room.
In Why you should re-consider using your smart phone for speaking notes I explain that your gaze narrows when you look at your phone. This has a detrimental effect on your ability to engage the audience. If you do just one thing after reading this article, I would love it to be that after every glance at speaking notes on your phone, you look up, breathe in, and see your whole audience – before you start to speak.
*Hint: Aim to be note-free for your introduction. At minimum, you should be able to say your first line without a prompt.
Rachael West is a strategic speaker coach, facilitator and social entrepreneur. She loves helping engineers, scientists and people with something important to tell the world, craft a meaningful, engaging presentation they can use again and again to help their field grow. For information on coaching or workshops email firstname.lastname@example.org.