As a professional speaker and speaking coach, I rarely refer to notes while I’m actually speaking, and that’s for three reasons: First, it’s my job to know my content inside and out. Second, because my presentations are interactive, I have multiple opportunities to check my notes while my audience is doing an activity or having a discussion. Third, having spent seven years performing improvisational comedy, I can usually “wing it” for a few minutes until I gather my thoughts, without the audience noticing.
But if you’re not a professional speaker, an interactive workshop leader, or an improvisational comedian, you may find that you need notes to feel more confident presenting. And if you’re not lucky enough to have a “confidence monitor” (that flat screen at the foot of the stage that allows a speaker to see his slides without breaking eye contact with the audience) you may have to rely on old-fashioned paper to bring up with you.