Like everything in life, nothing is black and white. There are times when bringing notes is absolutely necessary, other times when they are highly recommended and others where they are totally forbidden. In the event there is no, or very little supporting graphic material available for the speech, notes are essential, especially if it is of medium duration or there is extensive data, important messages to transmit, or quotes for which it makes no sense to have to make the effort to remember word for word. Similarly, even if there is plenty of graphic and audio-visual material available, if the event lasts for a long time, notes are then clearly necessary. For cases in which the graphic material on the screen is sufficient and the duration is moderate, the screen already acts as a script, and you will need to prepare the slides to ensure that they themselves will help maintain the flow of the speech. The most important thing of all is to avoid bringing notes along just because you want to have something in your hand, and the same goes for pens or similar objects. Whatever you have in your hand must be totally useful and necessary. And in general, my recommendation is clearly to aim not to take anything at all unless it is strictly necessary.
If you decide to go with notes, there are five golden rules to consider. The first is to bear in mind the size and type of font to ensure it is perfectly readable without effort (especially if you don’t wear glasses), and above all not to write an excessive amount on each card. The second is to choose the minimum possible text that merely helps recall the idea using the key words of the message you want to transmit – you do not need to read straight off. And the third is to make sure that there is a continuous flow when changing to the next card and that sentences are not interrupted between one card and the next. It is preferable to have more cards and not risk interrupting the flow of the speech when changing cards. As a fourth point, whatever you use as notes must be in perfect condition, impeccably clean, without a single crease on the paper. And finally, don’t forget to number your cards!