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What are the benefits and possible dangers of reading a speech or using notes?

What are the benefits and possible dangers of reading a speech or using notes?

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Question asked by binsa_thapa

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angel profile image
Angel Paudel

Reading a speech or using notes to deliver a presentation or in any form of spoken business communication comes with both pros and cons. Some argue, that it’s the best way to ensure that you don’t miss out on important things while others say it is a bad practice as it’ll show that you’re not confident. Here, we dive into the world of business communication and see the benefits and possible dangers of reading a speech or using notes, which are as listed below:


  • You can personally gain more confidence as even if you forget what exactly you want to speak, you’ll still have a note to refer back to.
  • Saves the time as it takes a lot of those to rehearse for the speech. Like in the popular talk show ‘TED’ most of the speakers actually go through a rigorous training process which stretches to several weeks. This time would be saved as one can just speak with the help of the notes or read the speech.
  • Can ensure that the content delivery is as per the requirement.
  • Reduces the chances of any errors.
  • Ensures that the speech or presentation is completed within the allocated time, without notes, it’s pretty easy to dwell around and go over the time quite easily (Williamon, 2000).

Possible Dangers

  • No or little opportunity for interaction: Reading a note will give the presenter a lot less time to focus on the audience as the concentration will be on the notes at hand. It’ll be like reading out a bedtime story instead of it being like a conversation with the audience. If it’s just reading, the presenter can rather send the speech in the emails instead of doing the presentation itself. The presenter can rather memorize it instead of using the notes which enables him/her to emphasis on certain keywords while also taking a break and engaging the audience.
  • Unable to maintain eye contact: Audience might think the person isn’t real as the presenter will have very little opportunity to make eye contact with the audience, not helping to pass on the beliefs (Beebe, 1974).
  • Inability to read the audience: One won’t be able to look at the audience mood to adjust accordingly. But by reading a speech, the person will be more focused on the paper itself to ensure that a line doesn’t go missing. And, while doing so if certain people in the audience are offended and don’t follow the presenter, it’s not possible to get them back.
  • Shows that you don’t have that leadership skills to perform under pressure while demonstrating the skills one poses.


Beebe, S. (1974). Eye contact: A nonverbal determinant of speaker credibility. The Speech Teacher, 23 (1).

Williamon, A. (2000). Memorize to OR to not Memorize?. American String Teacher, 50(2).

ncitujjwal profile image

A Presentation is a formal talk to one or more persons that "present” ideas or information in a clear, structured way (JACOB, 2014). All presentation have a clear and common objective. They are given to inform, train, persuade or sell. The major factors of any presentation are

  • Who is my audience?

  • What’s the purpose of my presentation?

  • What is the main message I want them to take away?

Taking note help presenter to capture, store, and memorize the knowledge with a proper guide for presentation. It is the clear roadmap for him/her, where he/she drives his audience, so that we clearly say, if the note is clear and concise then the presentation may be on a right track. For example, when we stand up in front of a group of people and make our best effort to persuade them to see things our way the pressure is undeniably ON (Cipolla, 2017). So at that miss-out content but if we have a neat and typed script in front of us, one that clearly states every point we need to make in the precise order and this method really makes our presentation very well.

The benefits are (Marcos, 2017).

  • Taking note makes we feel more secure because we know we won’t go blank. We can always look down at our text and carry on.

  • Reading a script minimizes our rehearsal time. The real work is done when the script is finished.

  • Our idea is laid out clear - so that we can deliver our complete message with carefully created words. We can clearly deliver our message to our audience.

  • Reading Script makes we appeared to be prepared, intelligent.

Some of the Drawbacks are:

  • If we’re reading written text, so our sound formal and more distant. We don’t speak in complete sentences, and the system of formal text is very different from the rhythms of spontaneous speech (Maroc, 2017).

  • We are unable to focus our audience, our ability to maintain eye contact with our audience is very less. This means it’s harder to convey a sense of conviction and beliefs. As a result, we may try to manipulate our voice to indicate the conviction, which may add to our problems of inauthenticity (Maroc, 2017).

  • When we need a script, it is also difficult for us to properly understand our audience. After all, our eyes are on the paper to ensure that we don’t flub our lines. Therefore, if we lose our audience or offend them in some way, it’s harder for us to make an adjustment.

  • When we read a note, we will properly stand behind a stand. We are well - protected from the audience by the stand itself, and by the wall of words that we plan to recite to them.

  • With a written note, the audience does not get to see we are thinking about our feelings, we are performing under pressure. So, they might not trust us.

  • We always try to demonstrate our best qualities of leadership with our audients and present a well, concise and clear content in a confident way.

Cipolla, R. (2017). How to prepare and deliver a. The University of Cambridge .

JACOB, D. (2014). HOW TO GIVE GOOD. University of Leicester , 4-5.

Marcos, P. (2017). NEGATIVES ABOUT READING A SCRIPT. Presentation Guru .

Marcos, P. (2017). POSITIVES ABOUT READING A SCRIPT. Presentation Guru .

ujjwalpoudel profile image

This mass speaking and delivering a spontaneous speech has always been challenging to most of us. While doing so, the convenient way speaking or communicating becomes the help driven from notes or reciting the speech. Reading a speech is not the recommended way to deliver a speech. It’s a great deal of work to prepare a good speech, and you want to present it effectively so that your audience will benefit as much as possible. For instance; I have seen many times people either reciting the notes or speech weather they are politician, artist, teachers and even professional public speaker.

Writing notes is a sign of being prepared and organized (Bell & Smith, 2006). The notes, if written by the speaker himself, will take the communication in a well-designed flow. In the same way, having the clear note means raising the confidence level to the speaker automatically. This will ultimately help us to capture the attention of the listeners and the listeners can make sense out of what the speaker is trying to tell. For instance; during my bachelor degree, I have to present numbers of presentation in front of my class. At the time when I were in front of all, my mind automatically turned to blank. This is why; I used to get notes which help me to deliver the full content and information. And the organized and systematic note will always make the presentation audience oriented with details and clarity (Anderson, 2011).

To the contrast, reading a speech well can be more challenging than speaking extemporaneously (Shahzad, 2011). There may be loss of audience attention to the speech and direct eye-eye contact wouldn’t be possible all the time as the speaker has to deliver the speech. Audience may also find the speeches boring and uninteresting causing them to be inattentive to whole presentation. At the time, one cannot monitor audience feedback and hence it reduces the chances of connecting with audience. For instance; I have bitter experienced to my bachelor degree that my International Business teacher used to come up with slides. An hour class was covered by 75 to 80 slides with running sentences. The whole class used to sleep, bored, and fed up.

So far, using notes or not it doesn’t matter but proper eye contact and perfect body gesture with detailed structure is necessary to make the audience more comfort and understandable. I would recommend being prepared, organized, confident and natural without losing the listeners attention.


Anderson, J. (2011). Why Public Speakers Should Always Use Notes? Retrieved from theaccidentalcommunicator.com/rehe... 1

Azam, M. K. S. (2011). Speech generation by artificial intelligent systems: Issues and challenges. NUML Journal of Critical Inquiry, 9 (1), 129.

Bell, A. H., & Smith, D. M. (2014). Management Communication (3rd e.d.). New Delhi: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

shantamilan profile image

People have conflicting stand on whether reading speech or using notes is good or bad and as such it has both benefits and dangers. "The key to using speaking notes effectively is to use them as an aid, but not as a crutch. The preparation and rehearsal of a speech are always vital. (Adamy, Sep 1981)”

First let us look at some of the benefits of reading speech or using notes

  • You are prepared and can explain all the points that you have prepared for without missing any.

  • It is easier and requires less time as you do not have to give a lot of time for preparation.

  • Your speech is structured.

There are also dangers to reading speech or using notes which are,

  • You do not connect with the audience and lacks intimacy. So even though you have said everything the audience may not understand it or may not pay attention to it.

  • People will feel bored. You are there to present. Reading to the audience will be like telling a boring story to kids who will eventually sleep through your speech. The audience, if given a copy of your speech, can read for themselves.

  • Your speech will not come out to be passionate as your body language and eye contact will be missing from the equation. People cannot respond genuinely when they cannot relate to you.

  • You will not be able to listen to the audience. Their reaction to your speech will go unheard and for the better part, you will be taking to an empty room.

"And business leaders, although they may not be experts in all aspects of the business, need to convey their leadership expertise by creating a bond with their listeners by getting away from a text, and into the ears and eyes - hearts and minds - of those they lead and seek to influence. (Wyeth, 2017)” Thus having confidence and connecting with the crowd is always better than reading a speech or using notes. But using notes to remember and regrouping your thoughts is useful and accepted. The trick is to be casual while doing this and not make it obvious disrupting the flow of the speech.

Adamy, D. L. (Sep 1981). Speech Notes: How and When to Use Them. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication , 130. Retrieved from proxy.lirn.net/MuseProxyID=mp03/Mu...

Wyeth, S. (2017, April 20). PERFORMANCE Do You Read from a Script? Should You? Retrieved from Presentation Guru: presentation-guru.com/do-you-read-...

sachitabhattarai profile image

Reading a speech or using notes are usually seen while giving a presentation. Speech is an oral/ verbal way of communication while notes are written way of communication.

It is okay to read a speech or use notes if you are a politician or business leader as they use it to address the mass of audience in a definite time. It assists with cognitive learning and critical thinking and allows you to organize your thoughts into full sentences or phrases (B., 2008). Notes mean recording something written in paper or notebooks.

We often see people using short notes while reading a speech. This has both good and bad impact on the speaker as well as to the audience. Though reading the entire speech is the least preferable option (Zimmer, 2017). They are explained below:


  • We get clear answer and ideas that are to the point related to the topic.
  • It helps to reduce mistakes.
  • Reading a script or using notes makes you secure if you go blank on the stage, you can look down at your script and resume the presentation.
  • It minimizes the rehearsal time. For example, you are a chairperson of Amazon and you need to address the press by tomorrow. In such a situation, reading a text or using notes is an appropriate option.
  • Reading a speech makes you look more confident and prepared.
  • It keeps the speaker to maintain the time limit given to deliver.

Possible Dangers

  • The speaker will always be dependent on notes and can never be confident about their ability.
  • The ability to maintain eye- contact with the listeners will be limited.
  • You will lose your audience as you keep concentrating on the page. Hence, you will fail to read your audience.
  • Using notes or reading scripts reduces the chance of connecting with the audience.
  • People speaking without notes fail to convey a clear structure of their idea to the audience.
  • An audience may think you are not well prepared or you know less about the topic you are presenting
  • Audience or employees may think you lack leadership qualities at the workplace
  • Lack of intimacy with the audience. The audience will not know about the speaker’s capabilities.

B., S. (2008). Chegg Tutors. Retrieved from What is Speech Writing: chegg.com/tutors/what-is-Speech-Wr... 2
Zimmer, J. (2017). Reading a speech. Manner of Speaking.

dipadhungana profile image

Speech is the vocalized form of communication. We express our thoughts, ideas and feelings through sound by means of speech. It is a great deal of work to prepare a good speech and it is equally important to present it effectively so that we deliver desired content to targeted people. For effective delivery of speech, some people opt for reading speech or using notes. Like every other thing, it has its own benefits and dangers.

Reading speech or using notes helps to deliver the message with carefully crafted words. When we have to be precise, there is no alternative for using notes. For example, while presenting research data or thanking a long list of sponsors for a certain program, we have to read out from notes so that we do not present wrong information or miss out anything (Marshall, n.d.). Reading from notes makes us feel secure and confident as we can always have a look at the paper whenever we go blank and carry on. It also reduces chances of mistakes and helps in concluding the speech on time. It prevents us from diverting from the assigned topic. When we do not have time to memorize or rehearse what we have to speak, using notes can be our escape. In addition to these, going to the floor with notes make us appear prepared, intelligent and academic (Wyeth, 2017).

On the other hand, sense of intimacy with audience cannot be established because reading from notes sounds formal and distant. We are so much into the notes that eye contact with the audience is limited. We do not bother to modify the content depending on mood and reaction of the audience that may divert the attention of audience. The audience may feel like if it is all about reading they can do it themselves. Reading aloud cannot get the intended impact because as we are more concentrated on getting over whatever we have written as soon as possible (Wyeth, 2017).

In my opinion, we can use notes as reference but we need to be sure that we do not look or sound like we are just reading while delivering the speech. We need to write for ears using short sentences and conversational words if we think of reading the speech (Marshall, n.d.).


Marshall, L. B. (n.d.). Quick and Dirty Tips.Com . Retrieved from Read, Memorize or Use Notes: quickanddirtytips.com/business-car...

Wyeth, S. (2017, April 20). Presentation Guru . Retrieved from Do You Read From a Scipt? Should You?: presentation-guru.com/do-you-read-...