How to Memorize a Speech for a Powerful Delivery
Giving a speech doesn’t sound like a hard task, but this doesn’t mean that it’s a simple undertaking. Did you know that about 75% of the world’s population suffers from the fear of public speaking, which is commonly referred to as glossophobia? If you’re reading this, you probably do too.
So, what’s a smart way to help you handle this fear and deliver a good speech at the same time? Memorizing your speech!
Memorizing a speech and no, I don’t mean cramming, allows you to give your presentation in a way that makes you feel and seem confident while also connecting with your audience. There’s a catch though, you need to memorize your speech in a way that makes it seem like you didn’t memorize it.
This will ensure that the speech feels and sounds natural as you present it, even though you may have practiced it a few hundred times. Memorizing a speech also prevents you from avoiding eye contact with your audience while you keep looking down at your notes, which makes you seem unprepared and unengaged.
How to Memorize a Speech
Below, we look at a few steps that could help you memorize and give your speech.
1. Be Prepared
I cannot stress this enough: being prepared is the best way to ensure that you give a good speech/presentation.
This basically means that you should do your research and have the material that you’ll be talking about at your fingertips and in your head.
This may seem obvious but for those who may think it unnecessary, I’d highly advise you against skipping this step.
Learning more about your topic of discussion could prevent you from being blindsided if an audience member were to ask you a question, in addition to helping eliminate fears of worry or nervousness that may stem from the fact that you don’t know your topic well enough.
You can never go wrong with actual knowledge and solid research about your subject!
You might also like: How to Prepare for a Speech
2. Draw up a speech outline
After you’ve learnt more about your subject, you can move onto your speech outline. It may seem like a good idea to have your speech memorized word for word but trust me, it isn’t. Not only will it sound rehearsed but you’ll also have a hard time returning to your original flow if someone were to ask you a question or interrupt you.
Writing down your speech outline allows you to outline your main points, which makes it easier for you to memorize or internalize them.
Your outline doesn’t have to be something long, it can be anywhere between a single word to a few short phrases that remind you of what you’d like to talk about.
This also affords you the freedom of being able to say something you just thought of that would be a good addition to your presentation while giving your speech.
Let’s be flexible people!
3. Mental images for the win
Well, this point gives the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” a whole new meaning.
It is common knowledge that the mind remembers pictures easier than it does words, so a good way to remember your main points would be to attach them to a mental image in your mind that you feel conveys a similar message.
The image doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but yourself, given that it’s going to be in your head anyway.
4. Ever heard of a Mind Palace?
You’ve probably heard at least one fairytale about a king and queen living in a palace, which should hint at the fact that a palace is a house in which people live, a very big house at that.
This means that a mind palace is basically a big house for storing information inside your head, so don’t let the phrase scare you.
A good way to remember your main points would be to select different pieces of furniture in your office or home and assign numbers to each of them, depending on the number of your main points.
This will make it easier to recall key points.
5. Now, visualize!
After you’ve assigned mental images to each key point, you need to focus on associating each image with a piece of furniture, incorporating how you think it would smell or the sounds it would make.
Say for example item #1 is a mahogany grandfather clock whose dings reverberate throughout the whole house every time the clock strikes 12.
Doing this for every point, with different furniture items, makes it easier for you to memorize your main points, because you’ll be seeing these furniture images.
The more vivid the image is, the easier it will be to recall it. When you do begin to give your speech, think about your mind palace and mentally begin a walk through your home.
When you see the mahogany grandfather clock, you’ll remember a point you associated the mental image to, which allows you to breeze through your speech without difficulty.
Here's a video talking about the mind/memory palace in more detail:
6. Practice and review
Reviewing these images over and over in your mind makes it easier for you to remember them.
Additionally, you can try practicing your speech using the points from your mental images at least once from memory, which allows you to make adjustments, however minor, to something you feel could be better.
Once you have mastered this technique, giving a speech without notes, even one that lasts for hours, will not be a problem for you.
This is not to mean that you can’t use other visual aids to guide you through your process like PowerPoint. If you have resources that’ll allow you to interact with your audience while presenting and still engage with them, use them as you see fit.
Here are a few additional tips that you may find helpful:
7. Try to relax
Before your presentation, you may feel jittery, which is completely normal. To help with this, you can try relaxing.
The more relaxed you feel after you’ve memorized your speech and right before you present it, the more effectively you’ll be able to deliver the said speech, in a calm and confident manner.
So, what technique can you use to help you relax before you give your speech?
This is a breathing technique that can help you stay calm in situations that make you feel like you’re under a lot of pressure.
All you need to do is inhale to a count of 5, hold your breath in for a count of 5, exhale to a count of 5 and hold your breath out for a count of 5 then repeat as necessary.
8. Be prepared to make mistakes
Every person who has given a speech has probably stumbled over their words at least once. If you do end up making a mistake, chances are you’re probably the only one who has noticed, so try to maintain your composure and move on.
Paying attention to the mistake only draws your audience’s attention to it, which may make you lose your place or feel flustered, which could cause you to lose your composure even more.
We all know that it is human to err, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you do end up making a mistake or two. Instead, relax and pick up from where you left off.
9. Pay attention to your body
Just like any other machine, your body needs to be well cared for and properly maintained to achieve optimal performance.
Therefore, on the morning of your presentation, you should ensure that you avoid drinks that may make your hands shake, like coffee or foods that may affect your digestion.
Instead, try to drink tea and water to stay hydrated and make sure that you’re well rested on the night before your presentation.
Pro Tip: Exercise has been found to be good for nerves so you could try exercising on the morning of your presentation - ensure you stretch first though!
10. Do table reads
Giving your speech in front of friends or family before you do so on stage will allow you to receive insights on anything you may have overlooked.
Table reads also allow you to listen to yourself speak and note any changes that need to be made, while also giving you the chance to improve your audibility and eloquence.
Additionally, it allows you to get more comfortable with giving your speech or presentation before you finally have to get on stage and do it in front of unfamiliar faces.
If you have no one to read to, you can do a table read by yourself. Using your smartphone camera, record yourself giving your speech.
This allows you to hear your speech objectively and externally and if you want, also allows you to share your script with other people who may provide you with additional insights.
If you’d prefer to not memorize your main points using mental images, you could try to memorize:
- Specific details of your main points, could be dates or names
- Acronyms and key words that relate to your key points
- Any quote that you deem appropriate to your presentation
Note: Starting your memorization process early allows you to become more confident in your topic of presentation as D-Day approaches.
Conclusion: On Memorizing Your Presentation
Giving a speech to an audience at seminars, conferences or meetings can sometimes be frightening. However, you shouldn’t allow fear to paralyze you. Instead, remind yourself that you are knowledgeable about your topic of presentation or that you wrote your speech, so you know what you’re talking about.
Furthermore, remaining calm while giving your speech also allows you to take your time while presenting, which makes it easier for you to interact with your audience, ensuring they understand the main points of your speech.