4 Ways to Memorize a Speech – Without Sounding Like a Nervous Robot
You have taken time and researched your content. You plan it out and now it’s time to write it down. It has been tasking, especially the research bit. But you know very well that the biggest task is yet to come.
Presenting your speech is the most challenging part of your project. It may be a gratitude speech given to guests during a CSR event or a sales pitch delivered to potential investors.
Whichever way, the presentation communicates more than anything else. Did you know that how you make your presentation determines how people receive it?
Having facts and stats about the subject you’re talking about is good. Having a deep understanding of the subject makes you best suited to talk about it.
But if your presentation skills are not great, then the whole thing is likely to fail. Great presentation skills guarantee success to whatever you want to communicate.
One of the essentials of a great presentation is speaking from memory. Although having notes is allowed, not having them paints a better picture of you.
Speaking without notes makes you come across as an expert in the field. It is simply taken to mean that you are talking out of knowledge and experience.
If you are interested in furthering your career or expanding your business, then it’s crucial that you be able to speak from memory.
But there is a challenge here.
What if your memory is not so good?
No problem. Despite what you may have heard or thought, no-one has perfect memory. In fact, what is usually said to be a photographic memory does not really exist. Those who speak well simply train themselves and great results follow.
This is exactly why this articles exists: to help you become like them, if not better.
First, let’s start with a simple understanding of how the human memory works.
It is divided into two: short-term and long-term. Anything you read, watch or listen to, goes into your short-term memory. As the name indicates, the span of this memory is really short. Short-term memory lasts 15 – 30 seconds. Anything else is long-term memory.
Since this duration is too short for most tasks, your brain selects what to push from the short-term into the long-term memory. This does not necessarily mean that whatever is stored in your long-term memory is permanent.
For you to give your speech from memory, you need it to get to the long-term memory where you can retrieve it later.
Still, your brain can delete the whole information or bits of it.
To avoid this unfortunate turn of events, you have to tell your brain to retain the speech. In other words, you have to memorize it.
WHY YOU FORGET SO EASILY
It is encouraging to hear Ron White, two-time USA memory champion, say that he doesn’t have a perfect memory. He just trained himself and got the results. You too can have similar results if you train your memory well.
Your memory exists to serve you and help you recall what you need so as to achieve your goals. To do this, your brain decides what to prioritize and what to quickly discard. This is all depending on the information you have fed it in the course of time.
In some cases, you may not have given it enough information by which to make proper decisions. But being the smart tool it is, it learns quickly. It takes the current situation, looks at what interests you in it and starts prioritizing anything related to that.
For example, you may attend a networking seminar and once the talks are over, you get introduced to several people. According to your mind, you were supposed to know more than five people and get their business contacts. However, things change.
One of the potential customers you meet is a very beautiful lady and a different interest comes up in your mind. You get carried away by her smile and instantly like her voice.
At this point, your mind needs serious motivation to pursue business interests. Though you may later talk with other people, you may forget their names, even faces, but remember this particular lady. Why?
From the information your mind has, it knows the amount of interest you have given different things. In this case, maybe you’re single and have been seriously thinking of settling down.
Though the business interests are important, the desire to settle down ranks higher in life interests. Your mind therefore grabs the opportunity which could lead you to settling down.
Everything you feed into your mind passes through the short-term memory. But for something to be saved for long-term recall, two conditions are checked:
- Long-term usefulness – anything which is not going to last for long in your life will not be stored for long-term access. This is why you can’t remember some of the things you learned in school. You crammed them, passed the exams but their usefulness in your life never went beyond the school years.
- Interest levels – whether something is useful for the long-term or not, your interest levels can make your mind store it for long-term access. When something or someone piques your interest, your brain’s reward system is activated. Anything that happens during this time will be remembered better than what happens when you’re bored.
The things which interest you are often those that leave you feeling good. Whenever involved, your emotions determine how much you remember. Feelings of good are cherished by the mind because they make both your mind and body be at ease. They also provide some necessary therapy during hard times.
You will be pleased to know that your mind knows what to invest in.
If you therefore find yourself forgetting very easily, you have these two main questions to ask yourself: are you engaging in something meaningful and is it something interesting? Unfortunately, life doesn’t always give you easy options to choose from.
Case in point? When you have a speech to deliver before an audience and it’s part of your academic tests.
Or you have a sales presentation which determines whether you get funding for your business or not. Such situations demand that you bring out your best.
You will have to make the best of the opportunity and nothing promises better results than giving the speech from memory.
HINDRANCES TO SUCCESSFULLY MEMORIZING A SPEECH
Memorizing is not easy where there are barriers. These make a seemingly difficult task truly difficult.
But can you avoid them?
As with most other unwanted things, these barriers are merely challenges. Though it’s a fact that they exist, their effect on your efforts to memorize a speech is largely dependent on you.
Since they are lifestyle-related, you can make changes to your routine and keep them at bay.
Below are some common barriers and how to overcome them.
Modern life makes multitasking seem like a necessary skill to acquire yet it’s actually a distraction. There is so much to be achieved in the shortest time possible that more time is needed. If only someone could invent a way of making a day last 30 hours instead of 24…
Whatever you do, it is important to provide your mind with a conducive working environment. This becomes critical when learning something new, like committing the speech material to memory.
Despite talk that multitasking shows you are more productive, the truth is that it actually negatively affects your life. Multitasking hampers your learning abilities.
For the best results, your mind should concentrate on one task and finish it. Then you can allocate it more work. This way, it channels all its energies to the particular task and finishes faster, while guaranteeing better results.
For example, if in the midst of learning you receive a text from a friend and decide to read it, you have introduced a distraction. Whether you reply immediately or later, it doesn’t matter much.
You engaged your mind in reading the text and understanding its contents. And upon reading it, your mind starts working on a response, even if you will send it later.
When you go back to your learning, your concentration is now fragmented. Some part of it is in the text. Maybe the text reminds you of the time spent with your friend.
Or maybe he was asking for some help. You will need considerable effort to fully get back into the learning. This means the overall learning process will take more time that it ought to have.
Lack of sleep
Your brain needs enough sleep to function well. You have been working all day long and require rest. At night, your body automatically slows down so as to repair damaged muscles and prepare for the following day.
When you push yourself too hard and sleep too little, you are creating an atmosphere of stress. From the lack of sleep, your body won’t have undergone the necessary repair to be in tip-top shape for the following day.
Sleep deprivation has many effects as explained in the below video.
When you combine this with the pressure of learning something new in a short time, you overwork your brain.
Although it can adopt to the situation and deliver, it is important to know that this is not the best way of handling things. In due time, you may suffer more memory breakdown that you expect.
Stress takes a toll on you and negatively affects your social life; from family to friends. In this state of mind, you can be sure that learning anything new would not be easy. Stress affects learning and memory thus not a good environment for memorizing your speech.
And it gets worse when the stress makes you lose sleep.
If you are like most people, stress has gradually formed a part of your life. From the workplace to home, opportunities to pick up stress abound.
That said, what is acceptable as normal is the little stress that comes and leaves after a while. But recurrent stress or prolonged stress is unhealthy and should be avoided. If you’re already a victim, then you should actively fight stress.
Lack of mental exercises
What happens when you want something but there seems to be a barrier before you? What if it’s a barrier you can challenge?
Your mind fuels the need or desire to overcome the challenge. It starts thinking of ways of going through or around the problem. However, the success of your mind’s mission is largely dependent on whether it has been exercised enough. You exercise the mind in two major ways:
1. Physical workout – unless you are not aware of the dangers of being a couch potato, you very likely do some form of physical exercise. Physical exercises benefit more than the skeletal muscles and do more than shaping your body.
Though these are the most visible outcomes of physical workout, there are more benefits. You may not have thought much about them but if you regularly exercise, you definitely have experienced them.
They include reduced stress levels, feeling more happy, reduced risk of heart diseases, finding it easier to relax and sleep and improved memory and thinking. Also, you develop a higher sense of confidence and this helps you successfully tackle challenges in life.
2. Mental workout – this is not as commonly-known as physical workout. However, you still engage in it quite often—depending on your lifestyle. Do you fill out the crossword in newspapers and magazines? Do you engage in competitive sports?
These push your mind to work hard and think of ways to beat your opponent. Apart from enjoying yourself, your brain is building it’s own muscles and your cognitive reserves are increasing. You can have better memory if you engage in more brain exercises and avoid damaging habits like smoking.
Having looked at these challenges, let’s see what reasons you have for working on your memorization abilities.
BENEFITS OF BETTER MEMORIZATION
There are many benefits that can be derived by practising memorization.
Though some may be argued as situational benefits, the below stand as general gains for all people.
Whether you are an engineer or artist, learning to memorize enables you enjoy the below benefits.
Seem like a specialist in the subject
Presenting your speech from memory makes you seem like a specialist in the subject. This is as opposed to doing it from notes.
The free flow of words explaining your points indicates that you understand the subject well. If you are hoping to convince people to do something, then you become more believable.
This is an important benefit for you. People rarely take any action unless they trust you. Whether it’s with their time or money, you simply have to prove yourself first. Memorizing your speech is the first step towards achieving this trust.
Once you gain their trust, you can ask your audience to take any action and they will. You will however have to deliver on whatever you promise so as to maintain the trust.
Freedom for your mind to be creative
Your mind is good just as it is, but it can become better. The same way hitting the gym enables you to lift heavier weights, so does memorizing your speech help your mind become more creative.
This becomes evident when you get to the presentation. Having all the information stored in your mind ready for recall gives you a big dose of confidence. This is even more important if you want to avoid sounding like a nervous robot.
Your audience will expect you to deliver an engaging speech. You will need to gauge their interest levels. If for example they seem to be getting bored, you need to tell a joke. Or a short funny but relevant story. If their faces show they’re confused, you should explain the point you have just made.
You will not be able to do any of these things if your mind is caught up in trying to remember the speech. You will be stressed and get more nervous with every passing second. Eventually, eager to finish your speech, you will end up not performing as you could.
With your speech memorized, your mind is free and confident to be creative and implement other public speaking skills as necessary.
Better time management
Memorizing a speech helps you utilize the time allocated to you efficiently. This is because you have everything laid out clearly in your mind. This also helps you avoid awkward moments of silence. You will not waste time trying to retrieve specific thoughts from memory or connect two random ideas.
Such incidents can really affect your speech delivery with irreversible negative effects. If you are in an event where there are several speeches being given, people may switch off and just wait for the next speaker.
When you however use your time well, your audience see professionalism in you. It is interpreted as respect for your audience by being on point.
More than that, if you finish before your time is over, you can answer any questions which your audience may have.
4 WAYS TO MEMORIZE A SPEECH
Memorizing a speech is not as difficult as it may sound. If you find it to be difficult, then you have come to the right place.
Having shown you the hindrances to memorizing, you know what to avoid. And with the benefits of attaining this skill, you have the motivation to learn the different ways you can memorize a speech.
Remember that memorizing does not mean cramming your speech verbatim. Doing so will make you sound like a robot replaying recorded words. The only difference is that this particular robot will be human.
You will also have no way of adjusting to your audience. If you get an opportunity to tell a joke or story, you won’t do it. Why? It was not part of the speech and it may throw you into confusion.
Memorizing just means getting the information to stick so that it can be easily retrieved. You just need to have the main points of the speech and the flow of information. Once this is clear in your mind, you’re good to go. You can look forward to easier times delivering speeches.
So, how exactly do you memorize a speech? Four great ways are discussed below.
It is known that writing something down helps you remember it. Many teachers know this and that’s why they insist that their students take notes.
With technology forcing people into a paperless lifestyle, you probably would prefer typing to writing. Maybe you don’t even have a notebook. Probably not even a diary. Anyway, aren’t there mobile phone apps for almost anything?
When looking to memorize your speech though, you’re better off replacing your laptop with a notebook. Nothing fancy needed, just some paper and pen.
Let the ideas flow as you write them down, your handwriting notwithstanding. Scientists from Japan researched on this and concluded that indeed the more you write the more you remember.
After you’ve finished writing your speech, write it down again. Let it flow again from your mind but as close to the original as possible. The more you recall the speech information from your mind, the more your mind reinforces the path it follows to retrieve it.
When typing, you simply punch some keys on your keyboard and they are represented on the screen. When writing however, it’s different and deeper than that. You also give yourself an opportunity to enjoy many other benefits of writing which you unknowingly trade off when typing.
There is much effort from your mind required to take a notebook, grab a pen, hold it in the right position and write. Note that writing itself is more like drawing. For example, if writing the letter ‘P,’ you will not hit a single key as on the keyboard. You will instead draw two separate lines. A straight vertical line, and a small reversed letter ‘C’ attached to the top of the line.
Therefore, writing is actually drawing. And whatever you draw, you remember.
When you do this, your mind puts in effort and cumulatively doing it severally, makes it stick.
Use this method to memorize your speech and when it comes to presentation, it will just flow naturally.
Mind palace technique
You may be aware that the ancient Greeks were known for their philosophical thinking. Yet that’s not all.
There is a popular memorization technique called the mind palace which was invented by a Greek lyric poet called Simonides of Ceos. Other names for it are “Memory Palace” and “Method of loci.”
The term “Memory of loci” is what describes how this technique works. “Loci” is Latin for “places” and this method utilizes “places” created in the mind to store required information.
In this technique, you memorize the layout of a building you are familiar with, e.g. your house. You go through your house and select specific places to which you will attach what you want to remember. In the case of a speech, you will pick specific points which the speech discusses. These are what you will store in the places you picked in your house.
When the time to recall your points come, you simply walk through your house in the order which your places occur. When you get to the first place, you see what you put there and remember the point it represents.
You discuss this point and continue walking to the next place. Here you see the thing you put there and remember what it represents then discuss it.
This technique is widely used by those who are seen to have a great memory. The biggest reason is the amount of control you have over how to use it.
For example, it is at your discretion which building you use. You can even use the path you take to work every morning. Just ensure you know the streets well and can easily pick the “places” where you will put what you want to remember. It may be the newspaper vendor, the coffee shop, the post office or anything on that path.
A big trick in succeeding with this technique is to make everything as close to reality as possible. If using your house, make the imaginary walk through your house just like you would walk when you get in.
Another trick is to select prominent “places” which you cannot miss. They have to be places you interact with every day.
For example, what do you see once you enter your house? A coat hanger? Select that. A rocking chair which you sit on after dinner? Select that too.
As you continue walking, you probably get to your computer desk. Select that but don’t select a pen on your desk just because you like it. This is too small and if you don’t use it every day, you can forget to pass by it.
Concentrate on big things which if moved from their usual position in your house, you will automatically know it. You can only use small things if you have very many points to remember. But since you’re memorizing a speech, you will rarely need to get to small things. Keep your focus on furniture and electronics.
This is a powerful memorizing technique and is what one of the world’s best known memory champions uses. In the below video, he gives an explanation of how it works.
What you should remember when using this technique is to assign the speech points some meaningful images. It is the images you assign to the speech points that you will see when you get to that chosen place in your house.
This technique addresses forgetfulness from the core. In an ideal situation, learning takes place gradually. Still, whatever your brain learns now, it is bound to forget within a few hours.
If you remind it later by learning the same thing again, then it starts focusing on the information.
This increases your chances of remembering what you learn.
It is frequent repetition that produces a natural tendency. – Aristotle
The German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus pioneered studies on the human memory and discovered the forgetting curve and spacing effect.
The forgetting curve shows that you forget what you have learned as time passes. To keep the learned material, the spacing effect is used to learn. In this method, you first learn then take a break, preferably one day, then learn again.
After that, increase the wait interval to two days then learn again. Every re-learning session happens after a time interval which is longer than the previous one.
This technique is best suited for speeches which you will deliver in a week or so from the day you first write them. To use it therefore, you need to write your speech immediately your assignment is confirmed.
If it happens that you only have 3 days for example, you can still use it. All you’ll have to do is review your speech after writing it, one day later and on the day of delivering it.
The biggest advantage of using this memorizing technique is that it saves you a lot of last minute stress. Since you have reviewed it severally, it is already comfortably seated in your memory ready for recall.
This way, you can even invite your creativity to spice it up because the main content is not under the threat of being forgotten.
Recite before someone
Reciting your speech is the best way to practice presenting it. If you can have more than one person listen to you recite, the better. If for some reason you can’t have an audience, then don’t worry. You can turn yourself into an audience by reciting in front of a mirror.
For the best results with reciting, read your speech at least once after writing it. This way, your brain will have accessed the information twice. First during the writing and secondly, during the reading. This will ensure that your brain holds on to the information. It will therefore not be discarded from your memory quickly.
Since the speech is now in your memory, it’s now time to commit it. This is exactly what reciting will do.
A research found out that talking out loud what you’re studying helps you remember it. If reading quietly what you’re learning, the words are stored in memory as necessary. But when you speak out the learning material, there is more that happens and that is what makes the material stick.
As you recite, the speech is being re-produced by your brain. The stored information is first of all retrieved. Your brain then puts that information into spoken words and coordinates the necessary bodily functions to generate speech.
More than that, you get to hear the words again as you speak them. This is what the researchers called the production effect.
More than that, reciting also helps you remember more by using the path of improved self-confidence.
When you recite before someone or some people, you build your confidence before the actual presentation.
In 2003, a study on the connection between self-esteem and memory was conducted. It confirmed that those high in self-esteem had better chances of remembering events, even when they were difficult to remember.
So, how exactly does this work out in remembering a speech?
When you recite, you remember the speech content. Following that, you develop the confidence to present it later. From your success in reciting, your self-esteem goes higher.
With a high self-esteem, you stand better chances of remembering the content as well as forgotten life events. And if you continue with this trend, you definitely improve your Memory.
Wouldn’t you want that?
After all is said and done, your memorization efforts will bear no fruits if you ignore sleep. Learning new material happens best when enough sleep is included in your routine. There are still many discussions on the amount of sleep required. Many scientists however agree on an average of eight hours a day.
But the amount of sleep is not all that matters. The timing is important too.
Research shows that learning before bedtime improves the chances of recalling the learned material. So, if you seek to memorize a speech, it will be best to do it before bedtime.
And no matter what you do, do not deprive yourself of sleep as that leads to memory loss. The below video explains it well.
You have obviously seen at least one person give a speech from memory and thought he was lucky to have a great memory.
Well, as much as that is possible, the possibility exists for you too.
Pick one of the techniques discussed above and enjoy easier times memorizing your speeches. Remember to keep the hindrances to memorizing at bay.