Saturday, June 07, 2008

all kindled up for my next speech

I've promised to write about using Amazon's Kindle e-book reader for public speaking once I'd obtained one--they sold out in hours when first release, requiring the rest of us to wait a few months--and once I'd had time to practice. That time is now. I've had the Kindle for about two weeks, but it takes just minutes to learn, and even less time to order and download reading material.

That makes it handy for all sorts of uses (reading while on the go, for instance), but my hope is to use the Kindle to replace paper text when giving a speech, for myself and for my clients. Here's why I think it will work:
  • You can email documents, such as a speech text, to your Kindle. Equipped with a built-in, free access to a cellphone-style network, the Kindle lets you send documents to a special unique email address--which automatically loads them into the reader.
  • You can adjust the type size. In the photo at right, my bio has been emailed to my Kindle and displayed at the largest type size (there are 6 options). In addition, you can choose left- or full-justification, and even highlight areas of emphasis with a box. But make sure you or your speechwriter includes all the bold, italic or underlined type before the text hits your Kindle--it's not an editing device.
  • It's easy to "turn the pages" with one finger. For those tired of (or anxious about) shuffling papers during a talk, the Kindle's "next page" buttons, located on either side, make it easy to forward through a talk, whether the device lies flat on a lectern or is held in one hand. (I'm right-handed, but like holding it in the left hand, using the left thumb to depress the paging button.) And, unlike paper, this page-turning is silent--and can't spill all over the lectern.
  • It's as unobtrusive as reading from file cards, with less work. The device is small--10.3 ounces and the size of a thin paperback book--so you can hold it in front of you to read from. While it's a new look for the speaker, it's no larger than the largest file cards some speakers use.
  • The small surface aids in reading aloud. It's much easier, in my experience, to read from a shortened text--either on large cards, or on paper with large type and huge margins. (We've all seen speakers work their way down a long 8.5x11" sheet of paper--it's visible to the audience.) The Kindle's small surface allows you to look up more frequently from your notes, a more natural style that helps you connect with your audience.
  • The features, taken together, offer speakers other aids. Want to check a last-minute fact before your speech? Kindle connects to web sites, and you can store related reference books in it, too. Giving a series of speeches? The whole pile can be toted with you and will never weigh more than 10.3 ounces. Want to annotate the speech you just gave to note what worked and what didn't? You can insert notes and highlighted areas throughout the text.
All this will take practice, even for the tech-savvy speaker. So I recomment you try delivering a short introduction of another speaker, or welcoming remarks, or another brief message, several times before attempting a longer speech with these notes. I'll be testing the Kindle with my clients during speaker and presentation trainings, but I'm eager to hear your experiences using the device for this purpose--please leave a comment below!

Buy the 6-inch Amazon Kindle

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