Whatever your vocation, you’ll likely find yourself in front of a crowd at some point. And whether you’re a spokesperson, a motivational speaker, an athlete, an entrepreneur, a CEO, or simply a student, you’re a busy person, with more things to do than to sit there and memorize the lines for a speech or presentation. Take heart! The best speeches aren’t memorized line by line, but learned. Most people can tell when you’re reciting a speech from memory, rather than speaking about a subject you know thoroughly. That’s because when you deliver a speech you know inside and out, you sound more interested. There are inflections in your voice, and you’re not staring at your notes, so you’re freed up to make eye contact with your audience. You’d be a far better speaker than someone who is rattling off lines they’ve committed to memory.
We’ve got some great tips about how to memorize your speech on a tight timeline.
1) Don’t Memorize a Speech – Learn an Outline
Instead of learning eight pages of notes, which is impossible for most people in such a short period of time, commit to learning your speech’s outline.
Write down points that you absolutely have to cover, in the order that you cover them, and commit that to memory instead. A common outline is introduction – supporting point 1—supporting point 2—conclusion. For business presentations, the common outline is: identifying the problem—presenting the solution—benefit 1—benefit 2—call to action.
This is where knowing your subject comes in. You can talk around the points you have to cover, filling in the gaps and bridging the subjects with anecdotes, examples, and related stories. It’s far more natural-sounding this way.
2) Assign Mental Pictures for Each Point You Write Down
This is a great technique if your short-term memory isn’t that good, or you keep forgetting a specific part of your speech.
Dissect the section of the speech you’re stuck in, and imagine a scene or object that somewhat resembles it. For instance, if you’re speaking about animal health, and you want to talk about dogs, and then cats, don’t remember the words – try picturing a dog standing next to a cat. Why? It’s easier to remember images than words.
Next time you’re reciting the speech, you might get stuck in the same topic again. What do you think will happen when you try to recall what’s next? You’ll probably see images of cats and dogs in your head, and that’s when your brain will start connecting the dots.
3) Map it Out in Your Memory Palace
This is the same principle used when memorizing a deck of cards. Basically, you picture a room then associate each item in that room with a particular card, to help you recall them.
Now, pick a location you can easily remember in great detail. It could be your bedroom, kitchen, or even your closet. Then create a logical ‘route,’ based on which objects you see first. For example, what are the objects you’ll see on the walk from your bedroom door to your bed?
After deciding on a route, imagine taking that route and focusing on the items AND the order you see them. Using the bedroom example, when you open the door, you enter and see your desk and laptop in front, and on the left side you see a bedside table and a lamp. Next to the bedside table is your bed.
Now you can use the outline of your presentation to make visual associations with items in your memory palace. Don’t worry if the associations are weird, or outlandish, as that will actually help you recall them faster. The important thing is that the object and topic associations are in the same chronological order as the items you see using your chosen route.
Keep Picturing until it Sticks
Let yourself get comfortable with your speech’s outline and image associations. Now, when you get up on stage, you won’t be struggling to remember words on a page. All you have to do is picture those objects, which represent your ideas and points, inside that room. Only thing you have to do now is imagine yourself opening the door to that room.