The Y Combinator Startup Investor said (http://ycombinator.com/video.html):

Please do not recite a script written beforehand. Just talk spontaneously as you would to a friend. People delivering memorized speeches (or worse still, text read off the screen) usually come off as stupid. Unless you're a good enough actor to fake spontaneity, you lose more in the stilted delivery than you gain from a more polished message.

Do they mean that we should not write what we want to say in advanced and read it while shooting the video?

What does "text read off the screen" mean?

& What does "you lose more in the stilted delivery than you gain from a more polished message." mean?

1 Answer 1


Yes, they say you should not write your script beforehand.

Reading "off the screen" refers to a tool used in TV-broadcasting, where a screen with text is positioned near the camera so that the presenter can read his text while looking at the camera.

The reason people write a script first is because they feel they can prepare a better formulated text, they can proofread it, and the result will "shine" more (more polished).

The problem is, that people repeating a memorized text can appear stiff and self-conscious (stilted). Think of the typical young child who has memorized a poem and recites it for his grandparents. It's cute, but it doesn't look natural at all, the child normally talks very different!

The author states that you lose more (the negative impact is bigger) because of the unnatural speech, than than you gain (the positive impact is smaller) because of the better text. So the "trade-off" is a negative one: yes, you may have a better text, but you also appear unnatural, and the negative effect is bigger than the positive effect.

  • why he said "polished message". Polished message sounds like a message that you prepared in advanced?
    – Tim
    May 13, 2014 at 9:22
  • Polishing is "making something shine" (your shoes, your car). A polished text is a well-wrought, "shiny" text that looks good.
    – oerkelens
    May 13, 2014 at 9:35
  • Note that one could debate whether this is good advice, but yes, that is what the quoted text means. Personally I think it's not that simple: some people do better from prepared notes, others do better speaking off the cuff. But whatever.
    – Jay
    May 13, 2014 at 15:30

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