Middle-of-the-road memorization

Some speakers script every speech, memorizing each word and gesture. Others speak in the moment, relying on the setting to influence their choices. Which approach is best?

Strategy: Choose from both approaches. The best speakers know a natural style of speaking helps them connect with audiences, —but they also know most “natural” deliveries result from careful planning and practice.

Commit these areas of your speech to memory:

  • The opening. Set the stage with a carefully planned and rehearsed opening.
  • Humor. When you tell a joke, the setup is important— and the punch line is critical. Mess up the words, and you kill the laughs.
  • Transitions. Build dynamic bridges between different areas of your speech, and you control the flow and organization and also tie the entire talk together.
  • The outline. Memorize an outline of your key points until you can recite it word for word. That helps you avoid losing your place, especially if unexpected events interfere with your speech.
  • • The close. Your call to action should be precisely crafted for maximum impact.

So what is left? About 75% of your speech should consist of stories, backup details and gestures that are not scripted. That leaves you room to connect with your audience and deliver a personalized speech every time.

-Adapted from “”Should You Memorize Your Speech?”” by John Kinde.

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