10 great tips on how to give a killer speech without notes?

10 great tips on how to give a killer speech without notes?

If you are a fan of the TED talk format, you may have noticed that most of these speakers give a killer speech without the use of any notes. Maybe you want to learn how to do that, but you’re not sure where to start. After all, the thought of speaking without any notes may seem daunting and nerve-wracking to you. But it doesn’t have to be!

How do you give a killer speech without any notes? Memorize certain key points, but don’t try to memorize an entire script. Focus on making a good connection with your audience. Use body language and hand gestures to your advantage. And use stories whenever possible.

Whether or not you’ve ever given a speech without notes before, it’s never too late to learn how to deliver an awesome presentation without any cue cards. And this information is what I am going to talk to you about today. When we are done, you will be able to consider yourself a pro at giving a killer speech without notes!

How to give a killer speech without notes

In recent years, the TED talk format has made it popular for speakers to give presentations without any scripts or notes. After all, you are able to freely engage with your audience when you are not reading from a script, and you have more use of your hands when you are not holding note cards.

And many students that speak to me are intimidated by the idea of speaking without notes. However, there are several tips and tricks that I can give you in order to improve this skill. I believe that anyone can learn how to give a killer speech without notes.

Also, if you are are interested in learning how to speak with notes, see my article here on that topic.

#1 Memorize Key Points, But Don’t Memorize the Entire Script

Reading from a full manuscript has fallen out of fashion in recent years, and with good reason! When you are reading a word-for-word script, it is harder to improvise, engage with your audience, and appear natural onstage. It is also much more difficult to memorize an entire script word for word.

Instead, a lot of speakers will create an outline of the most important key points you need to remember for their speech. They will practice off of that outline. And the more you practice the key points from your outline, the more you will be able to recall them.

Here are some tips on how to memorize key points for your speech:

Write out an outline

Start by writing out an outline for your speech. This speech outline can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. However if you think you may have trouble remembering, you should make it simpler. Your outline should be a list of bullet points in order by which topics you want to cover during your presentation.

Practice your speech

Once you have written your outline, take as much time as you need to practice your speech. Use each key point as a jumping off place, but don’t try to memorize anything word-for-word.

Build a “memory palace”

You can try using memorization tactics such as associating visual imagery with certain parts of your speech, or building a “memory palace” in your mind.

A memory palace is where you practice walking through a familiar location, and assigning each key point in your speech with a different object in this scenery. When you are giving your presentation, you can refer back to your mental memory palace in order to remember what you were going to say.

Don’t try to be perfect

Remember, it is okay if your speech is a little bit different each time you give it. That helps make you sound more authentic and natural. After all, what you are trying to memorize are your key points, and not the exact words you are looking to say.

It is perfectly possible to memorize key ideas, and utilize them effectively when you are in the middle of giving your presentation. This will make giving a speech without notes a lot easier.

And if you need more tips on memorization, check out my article here on how to memorize your speech in less than an hour.

#2 Create a Solid Connection With Your Audience

Making a good connection with your audience can be a thing that makes or breaks your speech. If that scares you, don’t worry; I’m here to tell you that anyone can learn how to make a proper connection with their audience members.

Speaking from the heart is a good way to connect with your audience. Remember, people want to see that you’re a person, too. They want to know that you’re genuine, that you care about them, and that you care deeply about the topic you’re speaking about.

If you have a chance for a meet and greet with your audience members before your presentation, you should do just that. The opportunity to talk one-on-one with people before you speak will let them connect with you, and they are more likely to pay closer attention to what you have to say while you are onstage.

When you are speaking, try using the word “you” often. This helps to add a personal touch, and it will increase the listening potential of your audience members.

You should also consider using humor whenever appropriate, and if it doesn’t interfere with the overall tone of your presentation. Humor is an effective method to connect with your audience, and also lighten the mood.

#3 Utilize Effective Body Language and Hand Gestures While Onstage

A killer speech does not look like the speaker standing in place, awkwardly twiddling their thumbs, while staring down at the podium the entire time!

Eye contact

One of the most important things you can do while onstage is making eye contact with your audience members. This will help them feel like you are talking directly to them, and will establish more of a connection. Plus, it just looks more natural from the audience’s point of view.

Hand gestures

Practice descriptive hand gestures while you are rehearsing your speech. The right hand movements can actually add to your speech, and increase your audience’s engagement.

You should avoid pointing at audience members, because it can come off as aggressive. You should also avoid fidgeting with your fingers, or drawing attention to your groin with your hands. If you watch videos of public speakers that you admire, you may be able to learn from observing some of their movements and hand gestures. 


You should walk slowly around the stage when possible. This will help you feel more confident, and look more natural. It will also help to calm any anxiety that you may have. Take big, long strides. However, don’t walk too fast or it will end up looking awkward.

#4 Be a story-teller

Remember, Tell a Story Whenever Possible!

Stories are a big part of what makes killer speeches so great. When you utilize a good story during your speech, people see you as more human, more interesting, and more approachable.

Try to think of a story that has something to do with the main topic you are speaking about. If it is a completely random story, this might just confuse your audience. And you don’t want to risk losing their attention! But by choosing a story that goes well with the purpose of your presentation, you may just increase its’ value in the eyes of your audience members.

Stories are far easier for audience members to share than raw data or statistics. If they don’t remember anything else about your speech, they are most likely to remember the interesting stories you have told them. They may also tell their friends about the story you told, which may result in an increased number of audience members at your next speech.

If you can, make sure you plan what story you are going to tell in advance. Practice telling it when you are practicing the rest of your speech. Run it by a trusted friend or mentor so they can give you advice; especially on whether they think there is a better story you could be telling than the one you picked yourself.

How to make a killer speech even if you have a stage fright?

Don’t Let Stage Fright Get the Best of You!

Chances are if you have ever told someone you are a public speaker, they will have told you the old adage that “public speaking is more feared than death”. And for some? Well, that is true. Many people are plagued by a crippling phobia of public speaking. And if you are about to go give a speech without notes for the first time, then you may be extra anxious about it.

What do you do about it?

Well, I am constantly getting this same question from many readers and students. Here are some of the tips that I frequently give them:

#5 Don’t give in to your negative thoughts!

Negative thought patterns just create more anxiety. And if you’re focused too much on the bad things that could happen, you will appear very nervous to your audience.

Son, instead try to think positive thoughts. One way to actually be successful is to picture yourself doing well!

#6 Focus on the main topic

Try your best to focus on the main topic of your speech. You are there to speak about the purpose of your presentation, remember that!

#7 Don’t drink coffee before your speech

Limit caffeine before your speech. Caffeine is a stimulant that may keep you awake, but it also noticeably increases anxiety levels.

#8 Practice as much as you can

Practice your speech as much as you have time for. Being well-rehearsed can help eliminate some of your anxiety problems.

Also, practice recording your speeches in front of a video camera. You can also recognize things you might be doing incorrectly and fix them before you get in front of an actual audience. This can help increase your confidence level by a lot.

#9 Acknowledge that every public speaker is nervous

Realize that everyone gets nervous when speaking in public. One of the only ways to become less nervous is to speak more often!

Stage fright is mostly caused by our imagination. In this article I have described  that an average or above average performance anxiety can be found in ca. 65% of public speakers

Therefore you should admit that most likely you are going to be nervous. After all, few things will make it worse like denial. And once you admit to yourself that you may have anxiety from speaking in public, you’ll be able to find things to help remedy the problem.

#10 You made a mistake? So, what?

If you end up making a mistake, simply acknowledge it and move on with the rest of your speech. The more time you spend dwelling on your mistake, the more likely you will be to make another.

Assuming a confident stance will help you feel more confident. Stand tall with your head held high.

If you implement some of these techniques to deal with a fear of speaking in public, you may notice less overall nervousness. And how you deal with your fear of speaking in public is very important!

Final thoughts: How to give a killer speech without notes?

Today, we have talked all about how to give a killer speech without notes. You have learned how to memorize an outline, connect with your audience, utilize proper body language, and tell stories when you can. Whether you have never given a speech without notes before, or you have and would love to improve your skills, hopefully you have learned something that can help you.

Do you have any other tips about giving a killer speech without notes? I would love for you to share them with me and everyone else in the comments section of this post.

As it happens, I also have another excellent article on my site about giving a speech without notes. Check it out here so that you have all the tips you will need to make the best presentation possible!

Related Questions

What happens if I can’t remember my speech? First of all, do not panic if you forget your speech. Try to refer back to the memory palace or visual cues that you gave yourself. Take a moment to relax and compose yourself. If all fails, then just keep moving forward with your speech.

How do I give a killer TED talk presentation? Start by knowing who you’re speaking to, and keeping your speech simple. Make appearing authentic a priority in your presentation. Be approachable, and work hard at making a connection with the audience.

What do I do if I am anxious onstage? Try to arrive early to your speech so you can adjust to your surroundings. Take deep breaths. Assume a confident stance. Visual positive things, and think positive thoughts. You should also avoid consuming too much caffeine right before your speech.

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Who is Janek Tuttar?

My name is Janek Tuttar, and I am the founder and author of Speak and Conquer website.

I have been teaching public speaking at Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences

Here, I am sharing the wisdom of how to cope in different public speaking situations.

More information about Janek »

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Janek Tuttar

Hi! My name is Janek Tuttar, and I am the founder and author of SpeakAndConquer.com.

I have been teaching and blogging about public speaking since spring 2007. Here, I am sharing the wisdom of how to cope in different public speaking situations.

Send me an e-mail: info@speakandconquer.com


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