How to Memorize a Speech: Never Again Forget Your Lines!
If you’re like most people, the thought of getting up in front of a crowd to speak breaks your composure and gives you the jitters. Perhaps you’re a little shy, or maybe you had a bad experience in the past. The fear comes down to a simple fact, we’re scared that once onstage we’ll draw a blank; looking over the sea of faces and forget our words. Unfortunately, this happens to many presenters, and leaves them even more worried the next time they speak. Luckily, there’s a simple fix. Take the time to memorize your speech, do it properly and you will never forget your lines. All you need is a little time, and the right technique!
This guide covers everything you need to memorize your speech, but first you have to write it. Putting a speech together is simple, but it can take a few revisions to get the flow “just right.” The toughest part is writing it out, if you’re struggling to get started check out this course on public speaking made easy. You’ll learn everything you need to write a great speech. Or if you need this skill for the boardroom, learn how to craft the perfect pitch and never again have your ideas put aside. Now onto the techniques!
Once your speech is together, find a quiet place and read it out loud. Read it slowly and carefully. The first time you hear your speech you might need to adjust some parts. Spend time to perfect the content, it’s your chance now to get it right.
As you read aloud, listen to every word that you say – focusing on the meaning, and the point you are making. The more you practice you’ll find yourself remembering certain parts of the speech, look away from your notes as much as possible to reinforce your ability to recite from memory. If you wrote your own speech you’ll find you are soon able to recite most of the content. If someone prepared the speech for you, practicing the speech will help you get familiar with all of the words, and make you more confident when you present.
Take it slowly. The downside of this technique is it can get very boring when learning a long speech and you are hearing the same content – again and again. Force yourself to focus. Once you start getting sloppy, perhaps you’re reading too fast or skipping through certain sections, change it up and switch to one of the next techniques.
If you don’t have time to spend hours actively memorizing your speech, this technique is great to get it into your brain with the minimum of effort. Grab your phone and record one of the practice runs you make reading your script. Make sure it’s the final version, this technique uses rote learning and will have you repeating your speech word for word.
All you need to do is set your recorded speech on loop, and press play. You don’t need to pay 100% of your attention to the speech while you listen, which is what makes this technique great. Consistently hearing the speech in your own voice, over-and-over again reinforces it in your mind. You can listen to it while you’re at the gym or walking your dog, or in the car as you drive to work. You could even listen to it at the office while doing other simple tasks!
After you’ve heard the playback a number of times, have a go at reciting the speech. You’ll have it memorized in no time.
If you’re still struggling to remember your speech, perhaps you need a more active approach. Set your playback running again, but this time use a pen and paper and furiously try to keep up as you listen to the speech. Writing your speech out like this is very hands on, and will embed the content in your memory after only a couple of repetitions.
It works because you’re writing and listening at the same time, speeding up the information processing in your brain. It also allows you to think about how clear you are being in your speech. Is it easy for you to isolate the key points as you are taking notes? Do you ramble on about a certain topic, or get straight to the point? Don’t be shy to refine your speech if it needs extra work, there are some great tips in Michael William’s public speaking course for organizing your thoughts and presenting them well!
Divide it up
If you’re struggling to memorize the whole speech, try breaking it up into shorter sections. This allows you to learn each piece separately, and can be easier to remember – especially if the topic is complex. Practice each section until you can recite an entire paragraph. Once you have a section down, move onto the next. Soon you will have completed your entire speech, and have it all committed to memory.
This technique is great if you’re getting stuck on particular parts of your speech. Have a look at the section you’re struggling with and try to visualize a scene or an object that fits the topic. You’ll need to use your imagination here, while you link every part of your speech you get stuck on to an image.
The next time you are running through your speech with the prompt cards, of course, you will get stuck again. But what’s the first thing that comes to your head? The image of course! Because you visualized and linked images to the difficult parts of your speech, you’ll find you can easily recall the image. Now think about the reason why you chose a particular image, and the content will come back to you. This technique is used by comedians and entertainers all the time to help them remember their long sets, and will help you give a great public speaking performance.
Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice the smoother your delivery will be. Go to your bedroom or somewhere there’s a mirror, stand up tall and deliver your speech. Don’t let yourself get distracted with your reflection, instead focus on the words you are speaking.
Watching yourself speak is a great confidence booster, and gets you ready for presenting to an audience. Time yourself as you are rehearsing, you want your delivery of the final speech to be perfect – not stretching too long or rushing through it too fast!
You will master your non-verbal communication as you speak to the mirror. It lets you easily identify your expressions so you can add enthusiasm and commitment into your delivery. If you’re feeling stuck, the Present with Power course is a great resource, guiding you through all of the techniques needed to bring out personality and charm in your speeches.
After many hours practicing you will undoubtedly hit a wall. If you’re feeling stuck or are not making good progress – you need to get your body moving!
Stand up and start walking around the room. Rehearsing your speech while on your feet is a great technique, especially for anyone who gets bored easily. With your blood moving you learn much faster than sitting at your desk, keeping you active and more awake which boosts your ability to remember the lines.
Finally, don’t try to learn the entire speech in one go. Break your practices up into shorter sessions during the day, and have three or four during each day leading up to the speech. Doing it all at once is setting yourself up to fail, having separate practices is a very effective way to memorize a speech.
When you need to give a presentation make use of these techniques and you will have your speech memorized faster than you know! But don’t stop here. A good speaker knows their lines, but a great speaker draws in the entire crowd with a perfectly crafted speech, an engaging personality and an interesting talk. Learn the tricks of fantastic speakers and start delivering awesome speeches today!
Top courses in Public Speaking
Public Speaking students also learn
Empower your team. Lead the industry.
Get a subscription to a library of online courses and digital learning tools for your organization with Udemy for Business.