How to Remember Speeches and Presentations
For some people the thought of standing up in front of even a small audience and saying a few words can be highly intimidating. The best presentations or speeches are well prepared and delivered from memory, the speaker maintaining roving eye contact with the audience. But nerves can undermine the pleasure of giving or hearing such speeches, not least because stage fright is a notorious memory thief, confronting an expectant audience, even the best-rehearsed of speech makers may suddenly find that their mind has gone completely blank. Panic!
USING A MIND MAP
One of the most effective ways to prepare a speech or presentation is to get all your ideas down onto a Mind Map, as described in the previous post. You then fix this set of cues in your mind and proceed in a logical order through the diagram – for example, clockwise, starting at upper left, or whatever seems the most natural order to you. The key images and/or words that you plot on your map become prompts for whatever you want to say. By the time you give your speech, the map will be thoroughly familiar to you. Even while you were devising it in the first place, it will have started to imprint itself in your mind; and then you will have reinforced the memory every time you studied it subsequently. Of course, just before it’s time for you to make the speech it’s wise to steal a few moments at least to have a final look , and, if there is time, rehearse the stages of the speech in your head using the Mind Map itself to check afterwards that you haven’t omitted any of your points.
The beauty of using a Mind Map to prepare a speech is that it will give you confidence. You know that literally you have the whole speech mapped out in your mind in a familiar image, and that you can travel around your image at will. Confidence is self-reinforcing. Just knowing that you are well equipped helps you to do a good job; and this in turn increases your confidence even more next time you are faced with a similar challenge.
Of course, in many speech making situations no one would be surprised or disappointed if you held a crib-sheet in your hand and glanced at it from time to time whenever you needed a prompt. Holding a single sheet with your Mind Map on it is certainly going to give a better impression than sheaves of notes which you have to rifle through to find your place.
USING THE JOURNEY METHOD
Another way to prepare a note-free delivery is to write down the key words of your speech and convert them by association to memorable images which you then place at different stages along a chosen route using the Journey Method. You might opt to use your own house or apartment, or the walk from your home to the train station. Further guidance on using this technique is given with an example, opposite.
Tips For Delivering Speeches with Key Points and Phrases
To try to remember a speech word for word, like an actor learning a script, is an objective fraught with pitfalls. The problem is that once you’ve embarked on recalling your text verbatim, if for some reason (such as nerves) you forget the next sentence, you can find yourself completely at a loss. That’s why it’s better to memorize your speech in terms of essential points, what you want to say, without reference to how you plan to say it.
To fix these points in your memory, you can use imaginative associations to convert them into images which you mentally position in a sequence of locations following the Journey Method. You then recapture these images, and thus your points, by repeating the journey. For example, if at the end of your speech you plan to thank the farmer whose field you’ve borrowed for the summer fair, you might decide to place a smelly cow in your guest bedroom (maybe in bed dirtying the sheets) or a gigantic hog at the train station (maybe trying to squeeze into a carriage).
In speeches designed to amuse or give pleasure, rather than be purely informative, the telling phrase is a powerful tool. It is easy enough to combine the Journey Method with learning by heart a few eloquent sentences. Having composed a particularly well-polished sentence or sequence of sentences, you may decide to spin off from one of the key words (ideally one that comes early on) an image that you can place on your memory journey, so that the whole sentence or sequence rolls out as soon as that image has been prompted again. Practise your best phrases plenty of times, to facilitate this effect.
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