Presentation media development? Check.
Now it’s time to start memorizing. Gulp.
Memorization is one of the more daunting parts of speech preparation. But it’s important. When you memorize large portions of your presentation, great things can happen. You can choose and use the best words consistently. Your speech flows smoothly, allowing you to sound credible and prepared. And you are able to maintain great eye contact with your audience because you aren’t having to constantly look down at your notes.
Following are 5 scientifically backed techniques for committing a presentation to memory. Use one or more of these to make that last daunting step so much easier.
“Chunking” is a practice for learning and memorizing information. Studies show that we learn more effectively if we can take larger things and break them into smaller bits of information. For example, phone numbers aren’t learned as a long string of numbers. Instead, we break them into sequences of three or four numbers to make them easier to remember. You could chunk your presentation into the introduction, each main point, and the conclusion. It’s easier to face a few smaller foes instead of one looming and formidable giant.
Studies have proven that the act of writing something down can help you remember it better than if you simply typed it out. If you seem to be stuck in a practice rut and can’t seem to break through a memory block, grab a pen and some paper. The thought of writing out your whole presentation might seem cumbersome. But you don’t have to do this for the whole presentation. However, it’s a good technique for those parts that are more difficult to remember.
Research shows that once you’ve been interrupted, it will take around 25 minutes to get your focus back. That means that if you are having trouble focusing, it might be better to take a break for a while. Pay attention to the natural surges and lulls in your ability to concentrate, and memorize your presentation when you feel the most focused and attentive.
Modern neuroscience has made huge advancements in understanding the plasticity of the human brain. We know that when we encounter something new—as we do during learning or memorizing—our brain literally changes to form new pathways and connections. The more often we practice a presentation, the stronger those connections become. Unfortunately, there’s no magical potion for memorization. Most often, it’s simply a matter of setting time aside to do the intensive work of committing what you’ve so carefully prepared to memory.
If you are having trouble finding the time to practice, you can record yourself practicing. Then listen to that audio while you drive, mow the lawn, or exercise. First, make sure that the recording is of your best run-through. You are building the pathway we talked about in number 4, so it needs to be a stellar one. Use a program like voice memo or the video camera on your phone, and then play this back, listening to the presentation in moments when you can’t rehearse it fully. Wondering if listening actually helps? A 2014 study published in the Journal of Music Education proved that listening to an audio recording will not only help improve future practice sessions by nearly 20%, but that it will improve overnight retention of the material as well.
All in all, memorization is tough work. But these well-researched tips can help make it easier. When it gets tough, keep your end goal in mind. At the end of the memorization process, you’ll be able to confidently deliver ideas that are important to you, without your head in your notes.
The methods we use to teach presentation skills at Ethos3 are backed by science and are used by experts in the field. Ready to become a master presenter?