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Tips for speaking from a Manuscript


  1. 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.
  2. Make 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.
  3. 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 the manuscript.
  4. Don’t 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Establish 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 written.
  7. 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 speech¾they can only hear it.
  8. 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.
  9. Practice. 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.
  10. This is extremely useful information. Remember that this speech should be dramatic.