We’ve written extensively on the importance of using structured improvisation rather than scripting when speaking. With few exceptions, reading or recitation will not yield a persuasive, dynamic delivery. Structuring your order of topics and then improvising word-by-word helps your presentation come across as more natural. In essence, you train your brain to structure and remember your ideas in a specific order, but not with the precise words you will actually use.

In our teaching, we find some speakers who find it absolutely essential to write out their presentations . If writing feels like a necessary part of your preparation, don’t fight it. But do recognize that writing is only an interim step in the process.  

You do not write in the same style in which you speak—in law school you were trained to write like a lawyer, not conversationally. No one really speaks in the language used in legal writings. Even if you had a perfect photographic memory and could stand confidently and recite accurately every word you had written, it wouldn’t sound natural. A stilted style loaded with legalese is not very effective when spoken aloud; it sounds too literary and artificial.

However, if writing out your speech helps you organize your thoughts, do it. But then create a visual aid you can easily read, or make horizontal notes. Once you’ve got a structure on paper, stand up and practice improvising with that structure.