4 techniques to help you remember your speech

Did you ever stand up to give a speech and find that your well-rehearsed lines just up and flew away, leaving you red-faced and stammering? I’ve been there, and it doesn’t feel good. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing.

Minimise your chances of forgetting by using the following techniques.

1. Don’t try to memorise every word your speech

When I started speaking, I would write out the whole speech verbatim and then read it over and over until I had it memorised. While memorising your opening and closing paragraphs, any quotes and any humorous or important lines is definitely recommended, it can be a mistake to try to remember every word of the entire talk.

Why? Because if you forget just one word of your speech, it can throw you off your train of thought and straight into the bushes of forgetfulness! Map out what you want to say, paragraph by paragraph, and then allow yourself to paraphrase each point in whatever words come to you at the time. It takes off the pressure, and if you forget a couple of the phrases you originally wanted to use, it doesn’t matter. Just be a little spontaneous and express the thought in a different way.

2. Make an audio recording and play it back to yourself

This can be a very chilled-out way of remembering your lines. Just record it on your phone or other device and play back whenever you get the chance, maybe on the bus heading to work or when you’re lying in bed ready to fall asleep. In fact, studies show that our brains are especially receptive just before bedtime, and if we review the same content first thing the next morning, retention shoots through the roof. So a few days before you’re due to talk, use your speech to lull you off to sleep and then go through it again first thing the next morning. Do this several days in a row, and you’ll be amazed how much you retain without much effort.

3. Use mind maps to plan your speeches

Arrange your content around summary words or phrases for each paragraph or point, followed by a few bullets of greater detail. Plot this info on a mind map. This gives you a nice, visual representation of your speech that’s easy to rehearse. As you grow more and more confident, instead of using both the headings and bullet points to practise, cover the bullets and just use the headings. You’ll be surprised how much you remember, just from the headings. Eventually, put the headings to one side and try to recall both the summary word and the bullets as you recite the speech. Lo and behold, you’ve done it!

4. Practise your speech in chunks

Rather than trying to recite your speech from start to finish, learn a paragraph or two at a time. When each section feels secure, go back and put them all together. A fun game to play is to see if you can remember each section in reverse order or jump around. For example, if you divide your speech into six sections to memorise, give each section a number and then read the sections at random: say 5, then 3, then 1 then 2, then 6 and finally 4. It spices up the learning process and makes sure you know the content inside out!


Do you have any interesting ways to remember your talks? Once you’ve tried some of these techniques, let me know how they work for you!

And don’t forget to check out our fabulous freebies for more public speaking tips or contact me for a friendly chat.