As a leading presentation skills coach and trainer many people ask me how to memorise a speech. Some people say why bother, why not read from a script but the reality is that reading scripts tends to result in a flat and lifeless monologue that is likely to put your audience to sleep. In this post I will share six secrets on how to "groove in" your speech content so that you can deliver it confidently without having to resort to reading from a script.
TIP 1: Start by writing out your script in full.
There is no point trying to memorise something that is unclear, ill formed or verbose. I write a first draft on my PC and then I print it out at 18 point so it is easily readable. I then read it out aloud and listen to see how it sounds and how easy and natural it is to speak. I am looking to elliminate overly formal sentences, difficult to pronounce words or phrases that are hard to say. I recommend you repeat this process at least three times until you get a script that you are happy with.
TIP 2: Be realistic – Don't try to memorise your speech word for word.
Striving to be "word perfect" will increase the liklihood that you will dry up or lose your thread. What you want to do is memorise the overall structure of your speech. A sort of series of stepping stones that you can walk through as you deliver the words around them.
TIP 3: Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
The more you rehearse your speech the more fluent you will get and the easier it will be to remember what you want to say next. I start by reading from the script and then I put the script down and try to do it from memory. When I stumble or forget my words, I pick up my script and read the next lttle bit silently, before putting it down and practicing again. Repetition is the mother of learning and each time I do this build more content into my memory.
TIP 4: Create a visual "storyboard" for your speech
Some people like to do set of images that will help guide them through their speech. You can draw out a series of "simple sketches, one for each of the main ideas in your speech ro to download appropriate images from the internet. A picture is worth athousand words and a well chosen image will trigger your memory and keep you on track.
TIP 4: Create a speech summary in mindmap format
I love mind mapping and have found it an incredibly useful tool for preparing and delivering speeches. Mindmaps rely on carefully chosen keywords or images, to trigger our memory. The basic structure of a speech mind map has a sheet of paper in landscape orientation with the speech topic in the centre and branches radiating out from it. Each main branch is a key idea or theme of the speech and the sub branches linked to each provide more detail. Mind maps can look messy to the uninitiated but they are very structured and are normally read in a clockwise manner starting at the 1pm posiiton,
TIP 5: Summarise your speech on index cards
If you can't get along with a mind map you can always try jotting a few bullet points down on some small 6"x4" index cards. Rememebr you are not writing out your speech word for word, just capturing the key ideas to serve as prompts to keep you on track. Write nice and big on the cards so that they are easy to read with a glance. Don't speak whilst reading. Glance down at the card then look up, reconnect with your audience and then start speaking . I also recommend that you punch a hole in the top left corner of the cards and fasten them together with a treasury tag so that they wont get out of order if you drop them.
Tip 6: Use a memory hook system
Some speakers use a familiar journey as a way of memorising the main points of their speech. The well known landmarks they see as they retrace that journey in their minds eye can be linked to mental images that relate to the various points in their speech.
There is no one way that suits everybody but try out some or all of these ideas and they should show you how to memorise a speech.