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Should You Memorize Your Speech?

Learn why it's never a good idea to memorize your speech from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.


A frequent question I am asked is should I memorize my speech. Hear how boring that was? No. Do not memorize your speech. First of all, it's really really hard. Second of all, the only people good at that are trained Broadway actors. That's hard work. Why do you want to put that much pressure on yourself? The problem with trying to memorize a speech is that when it comes out, you're going to sound like you have memorized something. And that means your sound flat, boring, monotone, contrive, you won't sound real. Unless you've rehearsed ten thousand times, and you've been to acting school for ten years. I don't have time for that. I don't think you have time for that, either.

The other problem with memorization is that when you are nervous, and chances are, if you're a human being, you're going to be nervous when you get up to speak, your memory doesn't work as well. Your ability to have recall doesn't work as well. So you may think you've memorized something, in practice, in rehearsal. You get up in front of people. The recall doesn't work as well. So what happens is, you forget one thing, one word. And all of the sudden, the whole train is derailed. And then it's like panic sets in. Your audience can smell it a mile away.

The beauty is, you don't need to memorize a speech. You need to focus on your handful of ideas, and then just talk to people. Give them examples. Give them case studies. Give them stories. If you've got pictures, show the pictures, but don't memorize. Now if you do need something to help your memory, have a simple one sheet of paper. A simple outline. Two or three words to remind you. Perfectly fine to use notes. Your audience doesn't reward you for memorizing things. Your audience rewards you for giving them good, interesting, memorable information.

So, cut yourself some slack. Don't try to memorize anything. It's too hard, and it doesn't help.

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