It is well known that practice is a big part of a good lecture. However, there is one more important thing that can significantly help your presentation succeed without years of practice. And these are the perfect index cards for your presentation. We show you what to look for when creating index cards for your presentation. From the right structure to other index card tips like the use of colors, everything is there.
Building an index card: good structuring
You’re probably thinking to yourself now: seriously? This is not a tip! But, I’m telling you, not all index cards are the same! There are so many things that distinguish a simple index card, slapped down just before the lecture, from an index card that is well thought out and structured.
And one thing I can guarantee you: There’s no better feeling before a presentation than knowing that nothing bad can happen, because you have your beloved index cards as a perfect helper in your hand. And the nice thing is, with this feeling the nervousness decreases automatically. Because you achieve the wonderful feeling of security.
But enough of my ramblings and wisdom about nervousness, here come my top tips to help you ace your presentation along with your index cards:
1. Choose the right index card size for your presentation
This tip may sound redundant and trivial at first glance. But you wouldn’t believe all the things you can do wrong with size. If the index cards are too small, they quickly become confusing, you put too little content on one page and you therefore need a whole bunch of small cards that don’t fit so well in your hand.
On the other hand, if your note cards are too big, it can easily happen that you hide behind them, that you write too much text on one page and that they "rustle" during the lecture. Therefore I advise you to use DIN A5 or DIN A6 index cards. This size is inconspicuous enough, but at the same time you can still "hold on" to them well enough.
Now you are probably thinking: I might as well use normal paper? Wrong, because index cards are much more stable than normal notepads and are much better to hold in your hand.
2. Index cards for the presentation: number your index cards
When practicing, it can easily happen that you get things mixed up. With this, the chaos is already preprogrammed. Therefore, in order not to panic during the day before, frantically searching for the right map and completely losing your composure, I recommend you number them. This way you can find the right index card quickly and without stress and continue very easily.
And imagine that your flashcards actually fall out of your hand, that’s not so bad if you just pick them up quickly and continue as if nothing had happened. And who knows, maybe one or the other thinks "Wow, how can someone be so well structured"?.#
3. Labeling index cards correctly
My third tip actually goes well with tip 2, because if you really do make a mistake while practicing or if you drop your cards, it’s much easier to put them back in order if you’ve only labeled one side of your flashcards for your recital. Besides, it’s easy to forget to turn around when you’re talking, so you don’t know which page you’ve already presented and which one you haven’t. Another advantage is that your audience will not see what you have written and will be able to concentrate on you. So just put the index card in the back after you have finished a page and keep track of it.
4. Create index cards: Use different colors
This tip, like the previous two, is also meant to avoid chaos. However, this advice is not a must. If you are a visual type and can remember things better with the help of colors, you have the possibility to buy index cards in different colors and to assign a certain color to each topic. Alternatively, you can also mark the introduction, main part and conclusion with different colors. But as I said, whether you actually implement this tip is a matter of type.
What everyone can do to feel more confident with their flashcards is to highlight certain terms. For example, you can use a highlighter to highlight passages that are difficult to remember or particularly important passages that you must not forget to mention. This way these marked words will immediately catch your eye and won’t cause you any more difficulties.
5. Write clearly
WTF? Yes, some of you might think that this tip is self-evident. But I think everyone has found that the longer you write, the more unclear your writing becomes. In the beginning, you usually make an effort and write in beautiful handwriting, but after a while, your hand fails and so does your handwriting. Give your hand a break, because your future self during the presentation will thank you for writing so legibly. This also means that if you make a mistake, don’t cross it out, but correct it or write it again!
6. Label index cards correctly: label ¾ of the page
It goes without saying that you don’t know every index card by heart and that you have to look at it from time to time, and that’s exactly what the little helpers are there for. But there is nothing worse than forgetting your text and then not being able to find the right place on your index card because of all the text. To avoid just such situations, the text should never take up more than ¾ of your index card. Avoid overloading your cards and rather use several cards than confusing ones!
7. Avoid complete sentences
This tip is probably one of the most important for me, because I catch myself making this mistake all the time. Get into the habit of writing bullet points. You are not doing yourself any favors if you formulate your sentences before the presentation and perhaps even learn them by heart. Why?
Because you take away all your freedom and spontaneity, which give a lecture that certain something. Even if you think that this will give you confidence at the beginning, this is a completely wrong approach. Rather, you force yourself to recite a poem by heart like a robot. You can hardly keep eye contact and, at worst, panic if you forget a sentence. With bullet points, on the other hand, your presentation will not seem forced and, above all, free. And that is a thousand times better than if you just read off the cards.
Attention: there is one exception! If they are important quotes, feel free to write down the entire quote. Because here you should not only reproduce the meaning, but you should be able to present it word for word, and for this you may also read off briefly.
8. Do not write down details
This tip is also very important to me. Try to write only keywords and main thoughts on your flashcards. There is no room for details on your index cards. Again, this has a lot to do with spontaneity. Take the liberty of mentioning things in your presentation that may not have occurred to you beforehand. This will make your presentation much livelier and more relaxed. So not everything you say has to be on your flashcards. Rather, they are there so that if you ever lose your train of thought, you simply take a quick look at them and your flashcards contain exactly this red thread, so that you can continue without worries.
Flashcards for presentations: Practice, practice, practice!
It’s no use having the best structured flashcards if you haven’t familiarized yourself with them. So in order to make ideal use of your index cards, you need to practice until you have the common thread in your head. Memorize what is written on your cards and practice until you hardly need them anymore. But be careful not to lose your spontaneity in the process. You will find that at some point you will be able to give the presentation without them. This brings us right back to my initial thoughts. Even if you don’t need the flashcards anymore, because you have everything in your head anyway, it still gives you an incredible security to hold them in your hand and know that you can fall back on them in case of an emergency.
And this is exactly the sense of structured index cards. You should be able to speak freely and spontaneously as much as possible, but if there should be a moment when you don’t know what to say, you lose the red thread or, in the worst case, you have a blackout, that’s exactly when you should know where exactly to look on your index card. You should only need a quick glance and it will give you all the information you need to continue again without it!
If you want to create flashcards to learn, we also have an interesting blog article for you.