Best Way to Memorize A Speech: Scaffolded memorization

Updated: Mar 1

The worst thing that speakers can do is to read their speech from a podium. They have written it out in paragraphs and just start to read them as if they were delivering a paper at a conference. When this happens, the rhythm, emotion, and patter, of the speech is lost. The audience gets a lecture rather than a speech. The root cause is not from a lack of good words on the paper but a lack of memorization and preparation. Here is the best way to memorize a speech.

I want to share with you the method I give my clients when they want to memorize their speech: Scaffolded Memorization. I believe this is the best way to memorize a speech because it allows your mind to progressively learn the speech in small chunks over time. In addition, your notes become your guide, they act like memory hooks, rather than causing you to be glued to them when speaking.

First, go through the speech and say it out loud to make sure all of the words work

Next, take each sentence or two sentences and just write out the main point of each; try to say the speech using just those main points.

Once you’ve mastered the previous step, write out the main points of each paragraph or complete thought; try to say the speech using just those main points.

Repeat the process by taking away more and more from the speech and seeing how much you know in the end.

Try giving the speech completely from memory once you’ve gotten your main points down to almost nothing. Give yourself multiple days to practice between each step. Each time, try to do as much as you can from memory. What you’re doing is training your brain to remember your speech.

If you can’t make it through all of the steps, write down the main ideas on 6×9 notecards in permanent marker. You don’t know what the lighting will be like where you will give your speech; trying to read your own handwriting in pen or pencil under dim lighting will be a challenge. The larger notecards will be easier to read but won’t get in the way that typed pages would.

The main goal of this method is to get your brain to recall more and more parts of the speech over time. You won’t be able to memorize the whole thing at once, but by doing it in gradual steps, you will come into the speech more prepared than ever. Memorize your speech without the use of notes will help you connect better to your audience and perform a speech rather than deliver a lecture.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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