Monday, June 1, 2009

End your fear of public speaking - part 3 - memory

Memorizing your material is one of those obstacles that simply cannot be avoided without actually reading it directly from the page or screen but there are ways of making the process a little easier. How easy or difficult a speech is to remember often has a great deal to do with the methods that have been used to put it together. As was mentioned in the previous blog "End your fear of public speaking - Part 2 – “Tricks”"

determining and using the connections to the material that you have and the style that fits you best will help you to recall things more easily. In particular the use of the experiential is a tool of memory - telling stories and relating characters. People who have greater difficulty with memory-work are well advised to lean on this style of speaking because it involves recollection rather than remembering. You are not learning something new, you are merely relating something that you aleady know and have simply put into a specific context to make the points you need to make. I have done quite a bit of work with people with different cognitive impairments including ADHD (ADD) who have struggled with memory work, especially in a logical framework, but can tell stories with great ease.

Aside from this stylistic angle there are some specific tactics that you can employ that can be very helpful:

1 - Audio recordings   
                                    Recording yourself practicing a speech and then listening to the recording is also an effective aid to memory. The recording is remembered in a completely different way than the written words and this will also give a sense of which words and phrases are most effective, how your voice sounds, and if your points are being made clearly. Digital audio recorders are readily available, small, cheap and easy to use, take advantage of them. Once you have the recorder you can then use it to record the speeches that you make which is useful to continue to improve the speech and sharpen your skills in general.

2: Conversation 
                             You can also take parts of your speech out for a walk before you actually deliver the speech, meaning, try to weave some of it into some kind of conversation. I realize that this isn't always possible if you deal with highly technical subjects and such, but often it is possible and you should try it. It helps to get you more comfortable speaking on the subject, delivering specific lines/ideas and also gives you some insight into how they might be received. This will help to give your speech a more natural and less "written" style and there is also the additional benefit of hearing other peoples opinions of the topic -  you may even get some new phrases or ideas from them.

3: Reference card    
                              Having a full copy of your speech is a good idea for most people but trying to actually remember it word for word can be torture. It's a good idea to become really familiar with the speech as a whole and then get a cue card and write down a list of the main points in the correct order. If you can memorize that list then even if you lose your way and forget a sentence or two you will never actually be lost, and it's not that hard to remember a list of a dozen or so words. If you want you can write the "bow tie" that was discussed in the previous blog down on a second card. These two cards have all the most important information - you can carry them in your back pocket and refresh your memory at any time.

I hope you find these tips helpful - please let me know if you have any questions and, while we are on the subject of memory, please don't forget that I am always happy to shop up and do keynotes/workshops for your event and I can do coaching for anyone,anywhere by reviewing your video footage and script(s)

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