How to Remember Your Speaking Points…Without Memorizing the Entire Speech

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When you fail to remember your speaking points during a presentation, you look unprepared, unprofessional and incompetent. The effect of this could deepen your fear of public speaking making it harder for you to succeed.

I know this because many of the clients whom I've worked with said the fear of forgetting what they planned to say was one of their biggest fears.

This fear often led them to make more presentation mistakes like putting everything they want to say on a slide or attempting to memorize their presentations word for word. As a result, they'd fumble through their delivery, miss their chances to connect with the audience and fail to get the desired results at the end of their presentations.

Do you also worry about forgetting what you plan to say? Here are 3 ways to remember your speaking points when you give a presentation... without memorizing the entire speech.

Cue Cards

Like the name suggests, cue cards help you remember what to say by acting as handy prompts. A simple glance at a cue card will jog your memory thereby helping you stay on track with your line of thought.

For effective use, boldly write a speaking point per card. Refrain from writing long lines or sentences of what you intend to say. Instead, write only a word or phrase that best describes that point, or use 1-2 short bullet points.

It's also easy to make your own cue cards. Simply cut a cardboard sheet into 6x4 pieces big enough to fit a few bullet-points, but small enough to be able to hold in your hand without distracting the audience.

Order Mnemonics

A mnemonic is a tool that helps us remember certain facts or large amounts of information. There are different types of mnemonics, each one for different memory purposes. When you need to remember the order of your speaking points, an order mnemonics is a great option.

To create an order mnemonics for your presentation, all you need to do is form a sentence with the first letter of each point. For example, in my post on 3 ways shy entrepreneurs can overcome stage fright, the first letters of the 3 methods I discussed are 'P' 'V' and 'I'. To help me remember them, I would form a sentence like, please verify invoice. Once I can remember this sentence, then remembering which point comes first, then next, becomes easier. 

Should your order mnemonics be related to the topic of your presentation? The long and short answer is absolutely not. You can even form a funny sentence if you prefer as long as it is simple and meets the goal of helping you to remember your speaking points.

Acronyms

When I teach my clients how to come up with topics for their presentations, I teach them what I call the PEA Framework for Value Creation. What does PEA stand for? Pain, Essentials & Aspirations.

Not only does having this acronym help me remember these points, they also help my audience both understand and remember them long after learning from me. Cool, right? That's how effective acronyms are.

When creating an acronym for your speaking points, it's best to create an acronym of a known word instead of putting up a cluster of letters that you would end up forgetting. Some examples of this include the GROW coaching model where G stands for Goal, R stands for Current Reality, O stands for Options, W stands for Way Forward; and the popular SMART goal setting where S stands for Specific, M stands for Measurable, A stands for Attainable, R stands for Relevant, T stands for Time-bound. Look at the letters of your points and think up words that you can form with them. Pro tip: You may need to use a synonym of a word if one of the letters don't fit into a word you'd like to create with your acronym.

By using any of these techniques, you can then focus on connecting with your audience instead of worrying about forgetting what you want to say.


Do you struggle with stage fright? There's help for you! Get a copy of my book, Your Complete Guide to Beat Stage for Good here to learn how to overcome your fear of public speaking and wow on stage.

Arrange for presentation skills training for your team here or individual speech coaching here.

What other techniques have you used to remember your speaking points without memorizing the entire speech? Leave a comment below

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