EYN#033 - 4 Types Of Notes For Presentations - Don't Choose The Wrong One

May 14, 2024
Women presenting holding notes and a microphone

What notes do you use when your presenting. Choose the wrong approach and the negative impact is huge. Let's look at some of common approaches, when to use them and when not to.


Before we get started … the first answer is NOT YOUR SLIDES. Too many people use their slides as a public facing set of notes. But that's not what slides are for.


Slides are there to amplify your message and elevate the impact of what you say. They should not be a set of bullet points to remind you what to say - that's what your notes are for.


So let's look at some options better than your slides.


PowerPoint Presenter View

Can be a great option. Connect to the big display and then extend your laptop so the 2 screens are different. The audience get great visuals and your laptop is a great place to reference your notes. The main challenges with this approach is you need to be able to see your laptop screen for notes. There are lots of rooms where you don't have that luxury.


  • Hands Free - Nothing in your hand to hold.
  • Subtle - You can occasionally glance at the screen for reference.
  • Variable Font Size - Make you fonts bigger and smaller depending on the notes you need to see.


  • Need a screen in the right place. Many room setups don't support this. Many stages and room setups mean you can't see your laptop screen or a monitor.
  • Need extended mode. Some display setups only duplicate and don't extend your desktop. I've had this at multiple conferences.

Use Cases

  • Video Conference - The goto solution if you're presenting on Teams or Zoom.
  • Small room presentation - Where your near your laptop and the cable is long enough.
  • Conference with good screen placement - If the stage supports extending and has monitors in a good position.



A bit unfashionable in the tech world it seems, but used by professional presenters all the time. We need to embrace flashcards and stop using slides as our notes. You'll often see TV Presenters using this approach.


  • No hardware requirements - You can roam. You're not tethered to your laptop screen.
  • Keep you on point - People can get really waffly with no notes. It keeps you on point.


  • Something to hold in your hand - If you've got a clicker and a handheld mic they can be a bit of a handful.
  • Aesthetic of holding notes - You don't see them often in tech, so people seem self-conscious to use them.

Use Cases

  • Conferences - If the room setup doesn't support PowerPoint presenter mode, they’re a great option. You don't need any hardware and you can go where you want.
  • Bad room setups - So many meeting rooms have terrible setups so you can't have your laptop near where you want to present from. Flashcards free you.


Both my favourite and least favourite approach. For recording videos whilst using a teleprompter they are amazing. But using them in a face to face presentation can mean you're a bit robotic, disengaging and inauthentic. Audiences tend not to enjoy presenters that are reading a script and therefore your impact is reduced.


  • Well constructed narrative - Write a good script and you'll say some brilliant things. You land your message very effectively.
  • Accurate timing - You speak at 150 words per minute. It's easy to hit a timer marker.
  • Brilliant for recording with video - Combine it with a teleprompter and it can raise your production quality and reduce your time to create content.


  • Lack of eye contact - Reading from a script means you're not connecting with the audience so effectively.
  • Reduced authenticity - People can tell your reading and will often find it less authentic.
  • Bit robotic - The script might be a bit formal, and the delivery a bit monotone. It's not as dynamic as an unread delivery.
  • Less Engaging - Ultimately your audience are less engaged and your presentation less impactful.

Use Cases

  • Video recording with teleprompter. A bit of practice is required to make sure you read like you speak. For me this is the best way to quickly create brilliant video content.
  • Live Speech with Teleprompter panels. I've never done this, but you often see politicians with live teleprompter panels. I still think it's less engaging.

Mind Map

This is my favourite type of notes for highly interactive, discussion type presentations. All your key points are written down, but they're easily navigable and you can jump in and out as the topic changes. It helps you be really dynamic, and cover your key messages.


  • Able to jump around subject - You can find the topic you're talking about really quickly.
  • Easy to flex timings - Key points are the inner leaf nodes, outer nodes are sub points. If you're running out of time ,just stay at the inner leaf nodes and the main point is still covered.


  • Need a bigger piece of paper. You've got to write the mind map somewhere and that's a bit harder to carry round if you're not a table or lectern.
  • Need to know which visual aid to select. If you've also got slides, you need to know what slides go with what point from the Mind Map.

Use Cases

  • Interactive session that can jump around. Smaller sessions in either a meeting room or on a video conference.


Well there we go, different notes are best suited to different situations. Horses for courses. Choose the right one for the situation you're in and the impact of your presentation will soar.

Remember, your slides should never be your notes!

Hope this helps.



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