How to Memorize a Speech : Techniques that work

You’ve probably heard that seemingly bizarre statistic before stating people are far more terrified of public speaking than they are of anything else in life, including death!

never forget your lines

This may sound ridiculous at first until you think of all the negative possibilities people associate with public speaking. People worry a lot about feeling embarrassed by messing up their speech or saying something unpopular in front of a large crowd, and many of these fears revolve around worrying about forgetting what they were supposed to say in the first place.

First Things First- What’s Memory?

The first big concept we need to unpack to set the stage for memorizing any speech, any time is memory itself. Memory isn’t anything complicated, not really. It’s simply the total of the associations we build in our lives. This is a problem if you only have negative associations, but if you rewire yourself with positive associations memory will be your best friend.

There is a basic ‘recall’ function to memory, but this function is highly conditional on our associations. This is why you can memorize a long speech and recall it perfectly when practicing in the shower and then forget the very first line when speaking in front of a crowd. You’ve built positive associations with giving the speech in the shower but you haven’t built positive associations giving the speech in a lecture or conference hall.

The reason you have positive associations in private is due to practice and repetition. You obviously can’t practice your speech over and over again in front of a crowd so you need to rely on creating positive associations with that context using your imagination through visualization. Since memory is little more than association it stands to reason a visualized association is no less ‘real’ than a conventionally practiced association.

Creating the Right Positive Associations

visualize others

You need to repeatedly visualize yourself giving your speech in front of a crowd.
When you practice the speech do so with your eyes closed somewhere without a lot of sensory stimulation so you can deeply tune into imagining every facet of the environment you will eventually give your speech in.
Visualize the crowd, each individual face and the sea of people itself. Visualize the sounds in the room, the sound of your voice reverberating from the microphone. Visualize how you feel standing up there, visualize the lights and the podium if you’ll have one. Make this association as real as possible.
Create a positive visual association you can return to again and again when you practice your speech. By the time you actually give the speech you will have transformed your association from negative to positive and you will perform flawlessly.

Going Deeper

There are other techniques you can perform to make this process work even better for you. For example you can start by creating a visualization of watching yourself giving the speech as if you were sitting in the crowd, and you can visualize walking into that successful version of yourself to absorb their confidence and competence. You can deepen this positive association by performing the Three Fingers Technique, clasping the tips of your forefinger, your middle finger and your thumb together to anchor these positive feelings and associations to this physical action. When you step up to the podium and deliver your speech perform this slight physical action again and you’ll immediately return to that positive state.

Ultimately it’s important you use whatever techniques you need to create thorough and convincing positive associations with giving your fully memorized speech in the correct context, again and again. When you make these positive associations real enough you’ll find the actual moment follows suit.

Once your speech is together, find a quiet place and read it out loud. Read it slowly and carefully. The first time you hear your speech you might need to adjust some parts. Spend time to perfect the content, it’s your chance now to get it right.

focus on meanings

As you read aloud, listen to every word that you say – focusing on the meaning, and the point you are making. The more you practice you’ll find yourself remembering certain parts of the speech, look away from your notes as much as possible to reinforce your ability to recite from memory. If you wrote your own speech you’ll find you are soon able to recite most of the content. If someone prepared the speech for you, practicing the speech will help you get familiar with all of the words, and make you more confident when you present.

If you don’t have time to spend hours actively memorizing your speech, this technique is great to get it into your brain with the minimum of effort. Grab your phone and record one of the practice runs you make reading your script. Make sure it’s the final version, this technique uses rote learning and will have you repeating your speech word for word.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice the smoother your delivery will be. Go to your bedroom or somewhere there’s a mirror, stand up tall and deliver your speech. Don’t let yourself get distracted with your reflection, instead focus on the words you are speaking.

Watching yourself speak is a great confidence booster, and gets you ready for presenting to an audience. Time yourself as you are rehearsing, you want your delivery of the final speech to be perfect – not stretching too long or rushing through it too fast!

You will master your non-verbal communication as you speak to the mirror. It lets you easily identify your expressions so you can add enthusiasm and commitment into your delivery.

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