How to Memorize a Speech

There is no better way to project knowledge and confidence when public speaking than to be able to speak without notes. Indeed, in this year’s presidential election season, it has become a political issue whether a candidate speaks with or without a teleprompter (the politician’s equivalent of reading from your notes). The teleprompter itself is a way for politicians to look like they have memorized their speech when they have, in fact, not done so. You know a skill is valuable if smart
and important people fake having it.

So how do you give a speech without using notes? I have a process that works pretty well for important speeches. The first thing that I do is draft an outline for the speech. I try to include all critical facts and create a basic organizational structure. Second, I take a stab trying to perform the speech using the outline. This first attempt at the speech always sounds horrible, but it helps to give me an idea of how the speech should sound in the end. Third, I write the speech word-for-word. This step forces me to be concrete about what I want to say and helps the memorization process. After this step, I am ready to start practicing the speech.  

The first thing that I do to practice is to read the speech aloud and record it on my Smartphone. That gives me the ability listen to the speech whenever I want, which is very helpful for memorization. After that, I try to perform the speech in its entirety and without notes two or three times. I have the notes available and occasionally consult them, but I try to avoid doing so. Finally, I practice the speech at least once in front of an actual human being. It feels much different to give a speech to people instead of an empty room. After completing these steps, I have found that I have the speech memorized to the point where I can give it without notes and in front of an audience and it sounds great. 

The final presentation of the speech is always a little different from how I wrote and practiced it, but it will be close. The key is that I will get the information across that I want to convey with confidence and enthusiasm and without staring at my notes (or teleprompter). This process sounds long, but the more times you do it the faster and easier it becomes.

The post originally appeared in the Downtown Connection. Image courtesy of






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