3 Surprising Tricks for Memorizing Your Next Talk

June 11, 2015


You’ve been asked to speak in front of a group, perhaps to senior management, sales prospects or investors! It’s a great opportunity, but let’s be honest: you’re feeling a little anxious about it, aren’t you?

You want to make a good impression, but you’re wondering, is it better to read my notes or memorize them?

No, don’t read off your notes

Reading your words isn’t the best way to deliver your message — unless you’re giving a political speech or a corporate announcement, where every word is being scrutinized.

Why is that? When you speak with your eyes glued down at your page, you’re not connecting with your audience. You also don’t pay attention to important visual cues from your audience — such as whether or not they’re paying attention to you! And when you read off your notes, you probably sound like you’re reading, too!

Don’t memorize it all, either

On the other hand, the problem with trying to memorize your talk is that you might forget your lines! Plus, it’s extra work! Worse yet, if you’ve committed your entire presentation to memory your material might sound canned!

You’ll be a more engaging speaker if you’re fully present. That means being in the moment and re-living your stories as you tell them. And typically that only requires remembering key points, not every single word. However, it’s a good idea to make sure you know your introduction and conclusion very, very well.

What if you had an easier and more effective way to memorize your key ideas? Here are 3 proven techniques to help you make the most of your preparation time!

3 Memory tricks for your next talk

  1. Take a nap

Studies show that if you take a power nap after you absorb new information, it can help you remember more by optimizing different parts of your brain. Scientists believe that even a 6-minute nap can push short-term memory in your hippocampus to long-term storage in your neocortex. So yes, taking a nap can be very productive when preparing your talk!

  1. Use sticky notes

Take the outline of your talk and break it down into key speaking points. Then write down 3 keywords or phrases onto 3 sticky notes. These 3 words could represent the 3 key stories, moments and/or messages your talk.

Now, write down 1 keyword encapsulating your opening paragraph onto a sticky note, and 1 keyword representing your concluding remarks onto another sticky note.

Your talk has now been summarized into 5 words, on 5 sticky notes! It’s easier to remember 5 trigger words than your entire talk, isn’t it?

  1. Picture it

If you’re having a hard time remembering your 5 trigger words, try the “memory palace” technique. Simply visualize a place you know well, such as your childhood home, neighbourhood, or office. Then picture yourself walking through this zone and seeing symbols or images representing your 5 keywords as you continue on your route.

Don’t forget

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of practise time you need before you deliver your talk. But by taking a strategic nap, breaking down your talk into 5 sticky notes, and visualizing your 5 key points, you can go a long way towards memorize your message without sounding stilted!

Now would you like a simple tip to help you with your eye contact? Be sure to check out my advice here!

And why don’t you consider taking a nap right now, so that you remember exactly how to memorize your next talk? But before you drift off, do you have any questions for me? Just leave a comment below and I promise I’ll respond!

Image credit: pixabay.com.


Ron Tsang

Ron Tsang helps entrepreneurs give compelling presentations to clients, employees, and investors. He has empowered his clients to understand and master critical areas of public speaking since 2004. Ron has an MBA from the University of Toronto and an HBA from the University of Waterloo. Find him on Level Up Workshops and folllow @rhtsang.