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One Easy Tip to Memorize Any Part of Your Presentation

In mid 2017 I found myself on a stage in a Public Speaking Contest final. I was one of 7 contestants from a membership of over 3500. I had won this same contest at the three levels beforehand and this was only the fourth time I would present these seven minutes on stage. From here I had no more than seven minutes to inspire, motivate and entertain the audience and the judges for a ticket to compete at the World Championship. The competition was fierce and I didn’t place. I was still happy with my performance, but it meant no trip to Vancouver, Canada for me!

Four times I gave that speech on stage in an actual contest. However, I would have given that speech in my head hundreds of times, out loud by myself or in front of friends. And quietly, a few times in the shower, too. I knew exactly which word I said at the four minute mark. I knew exactly which sentence needed to come at the six minute warning signal. That speech was so firmly rooted in my mind, so much a part of me, that no distraction or nerves would prevent it being word-perfect on the day.

Throughout the 4 rounds of contests spanning over 9 months, many people congratulated me on my ‘natural talent’ at speaking. Their intentions are lovely, though a little misguided. Many mentors had brutally edited, revised and evaluated every word, vocal emphasis and gesture. I had practiced over and over and over. This was the height of speech memorization… and it was anything but ‘natural.’

It’s rare that we need this level of memorization for a presentation, but occasionally we will share some information, maybe a statistic or a fact, that we NEED to get right. Getting your numbers or details wrong can mean a big hit to your credibility and influence, so it’s worth investing some time into memorizing these elements of a presentation.

There are many ways to memorize information to present on stage, in a networking group or at a conference in your workplace. But let me share with you the easiest, most effective and most enjoyable way of doing it.

How to memorize your speech

“Take a walk”

Maybe you have your talk scripted out. Maybe you have a few facts, figures or stories you want to get right. Or maybe you just need to make sure the presentation flows. Go for a walk and say the parts you need to out loud. Maybe a lap of a few city blocks. Maybe through a suburban park or along a river boardwalk. Just get out there, walk along and say your speech out loud.

The three reasons why this works

  1. Our brains work better when we’re active. Movement gets the blood moving, endorphins flowing and primes our brain to better absorb and retain information.
  2. Visual cues give us reminders of parts of the talk. Do you remember exactly where you were the first time you heard a particular song? This is the exact same psychology. When you get to a certain part of your speech, you’ll recall the tree or the letterbox or the guy walking the small fluffy dog and this will take your brain to that moment where it learned that part of your script.
  3. Saying the speech out loud gives you muscle memory. This gets your muscles and subconscious a pattern of words and movements that it remembers as a learned skill. Just like you hardly think about how to brush your teeth, your muscles and mind just sort of, do it for you. This takes the mental strain out of remembering and makes it a part of your subconscious.

This method of simply going for a walk and saying my speech out loud was the single greatest tool for helping me memorize seven intense minutes that placed me in the top seven speakers out of 3500 last year. It’ll work for me again this year and it will work for you too.

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