I am not an advocate of memorization in public speaking except for your opening and possibly your closing. Because the opening is the most difficult part of the delivery, I recommend memorizing the first 3-4 lines. If ever there was a time when I wanted you to be flawless and smooth, it is then. It will bolster your confidence and make the rest of your delivery that much easier to control.

[You may want to memorize your closing as well, but that aspect of your delivery does not concern me as much as having a very strong impact when you first begin.]

Recently, I read an article by Tom Antion in which he described the way to learn your presentation without relying on notes. Essentially, his advice was to memorize each little piece of information, going over it and over it again, until you know it by heart. I couldn’t disagree more.

There are several reasons why I do not advise memorizing the body of your speech or presentation:

1. If you memorize your entire presentation, without note cards or a visual aid of some sort, and you happen to forget where you are, then you are lost. Without an aid to trigger your memory, you will probably find it very difficulty to find your place again. This is one of the reasons public speaking is such a great fear: the possibility of forgetting your material.
2. With a memorized presentation, there is a very good chance that you will sound rote or memorized in which you will be speaking at your audience, not to them.
3. Your goal in public speaking is to communicate with your audience. If you are delivering a memorized performance, you are not communicating – you are performing. One of the strengths of dynamic public speakers is their ability to react to their audience. Were I reciting a memorized message, then I would be unable to throw in an extra anecdote or ‘change it up’ so to speak. Good speakers will vary their presentations according to how their audience responds to them.

The body of your presentation is where you either provide information for your audience, much like that of someone lecturing, or you try to call your listeners to some type of action; i.e., to buy something, to believe something, or to agree with you, the speaker. If you expect to change the minds of those you are addressing or to teach them something new, then you must treat them just as if you were having a conversation in your living room.

Let me ask you, when was the last time you delivered a memorized performance to people who were sitting in your living room?

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Voice Dynamic.

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