How to Memorize a Speech
- Amruta Bhaskar
- Jul 16, 2021
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According to Psycom, 75% of the population gets affected by glossophobia or the fear of public speaking. One of the factors is that memorize a speech is often easier said than done.
For some individuals, they think that learning it by heart is not the thing you must do. Probably, several people feel that memorizing the speech may make the delivery sound robotic. Yes, over-reliance on verbatim memorization may result in an artificial sounding address. However, it can help if you acknowledge that it is more a symptom of learning the speech in a wrong way than a problem with memorizing itself.
Those good speakers you hear and see at conferences or seminars are not entirely rigid. They are flexible, especially when there is a chance that they might get interrupted based on the audience’s reactions. But it is best to consider that memorization is essential in some form or another. Most critiques of memorizing speeches are only critiques of memorization in a specifically unvarying and verbatim way.
Common Mistakes of Memorizing a Speech
Before we get to the actual process of how to memorize a speech the smart way, let’s look at the two most common mistakes many of us tend to make while preparing for a speech.
- Complete Memorization
In an attempt to ensure they remember every detail, many people aim to completely memorize their speech. They practice it over and over until they have every single word burned into their brain.
In many ways, this is understandable because most of us are naturally frightened of having to give a speech. When the time comes, we want to be completely and totally prepared and not make any mistakes.
While this makes a lot of sense, it also comes with its own negative side. The downside to having your speech memorized word for word is that you sound like a robot when delivering the speech. You become so focused on remembering every single part that you lose the ability to inflect your speech to varying degrees, and free form the talk a bit when the situation warrants.
- Lack of Preparation
The other side of the coin to complete memorization is people who don’t prepare enough. Because they don’t want to come off sounding like a robot, they decide they will mostly “wing it”.
Sometimes they will write a few main points down on a piece of paper to remind themselves. They figure once they get going, the details will somehow fill themselves in under the big talking points while they are doing the talking.
The problem is that unless this is a topic you know inside and out and have spoken on it many times, you’ll wind up missing key points. It’s almost a given that as soon as you are done with your speech, you’ll remember many things you should have brought up while talking.
There’s a good balance to be had between over and under preparing. Let’s now look at how to memorize a speech the smart way.
- Don’t learn a speech word by word:
Make an outline of your topics. These will help you to express yourself naturally. You are telling a story of sorts, so try to remember the route that you want to travel. This storytelling outline can be based on the parts of an essay: introduction, body paragraphs (which could be divided as your themes), and a conclusion. Then:
- Visualize the outline:
An outline is composed of organizational patterns of your choosing. Create mental images of your key points in the order you want them in the “story”. Those body paragraphs mentioned before are the key points that drive your speech. To memorize them, you can write them as bullet points. For example:
- Build your “Memory Palace”:
This ancient technique to store information in your brain can help you to organize your ideas in imaginary rooms. You are practically building a structure in your mind to store information.
- Record yourself:
It has been scientifically proven that rehearsing out loud can improve your memory, so recording your presentation is a way of doing so. After this, you can review your content and make last-minute alterations.
- Remember that you are the expert:
Don’t be paralyzed by fear. Keep in mind that you made the presentation and know enough about the topic to be considered an expert. It is advised to stay sharp by replacing the time spent on worrying with time spent acquiring some of these memory improvement tools.
Training your brain will minimize your anxiety and will make you an expert public speaker. Experiment with different techniques until you find the one that suits you: from rehearsing out loud, creating visual maps, recording it, or even practising with music. It takes practice to get the flow you desire and be a skill full memorizer.
- Work on Your Delivery
You’ve got the bulk of the work done now. You’ve written your speech and rehearsed enough times to have not only your main points memorized but also your supporting details. In short, you should have your speech almost done.
There’s one more step in how to memorize a speech the smart way. The final component is to work on how you deliver your speech. For the most part, you can go give your speech now. After all, you have it memorized. If you want to ensure you do it right, you’ll want to hone how you are delivering your speech.
You work on your delivery by rehearsing and running through it a number of times and making tweaks along the way. These tweaks or changes may be are where you’d want to pause for effect. If you’ve found you have used one word 5 times in one paragraph, you might want to swap it out for a similar word a few times to keep it fresh.
Sometimes while working on this part, I’ve thought of a great story that’s happened to me that I can incorporate to make my point even better.
When you work on your delivery, you are basically giving your speech a personality as well.