It’s perfectly fine to work from notes or a text when you speak, but when you choose to not speak extemporaneously, you need a checklist. A text is no guarantee that things won’t go wrong.
When you choose to read from a script, follow this checklist:
1. Make sure you can pronounce everything.
I once wrote a script for a client who neglected to tell me that she pops the letter P when she speaks, and wanted to avoid it if possible. (Yes, that speech was loaded with Ps.)
If someone is preparing a speech for you, clue her in on any pronunciation issues you have. Practice aloud to make sure you won’t stumble over anything, and make any changes before you get up to speak.
2. Don’t write out personal stories.
Will you tell a personal story? If so, don’t write it down.
Just insert “tell vacuum cleaner story here” rather than try to script something you can tell without effort. This will force you to look at the audience, which will help you connect and sound less stilted.
3. Check the format.
Your working copy of a speech should look much different than the pretty version you’ll publish on the Web or hand out to the press. Make sure whole paragraphs are on one page, include notes to yourself about delivery and emphasis, or limit text to the top half of the page to keep you from looking farther and farther down. Experiment with a few formats to see what works for you.
4. Check the type size.
Likewise, you’ll need to experiment with type size to see which one helps you speak smoothly. I like to use a Kindle