“I spent too much time writing my speech and now I realise that I haven’t memorised it. What’s the best strategy for learning a speech within a few hours? I am participating in a contest TOMORROW.”

A real question from a real person who lives on the other side of the planet found its way in my inbox earlier today.

A great question, one that often boggles even experienced speakers…

This is what I advised her.

1) Make sure that you prepare the beginning and the end of the speech really well so that you go in and come out with a bang:

The beginning and the end are often the portions that stay in the memory of people the longest, so a great beginning and a great conclusion will help you stay remembered by them.

2) Divide the rest of your speech in chunks.

So, you have a beginning…then you remember the chunk 1, followed by chunk 2 etc until you reach the conclusion. It is a bit like remembering your phone number. If I ask you what your phone number is, most likely you will tell it to me in chunks…e.g. 022-123-456-789. If I change the chunks and read the same number back to you, you may take an extra second to process it. 02-2123-4567-89. Why is that? We remember information in chunks.

Get the point?

Work on chunking your speech and you will be fine.

The fact that you have not memorised your speech word by word will bring in some spontaneity which will work in your favour. If you forget something, just carry on speaking….move on to the next idea. Remember that your audience does not know what you have prepared, so skipping a sentence here or there will not matter. Chunking will help to bridge gaps, if they appear.

3) And the final thing….As the time of your speech comes closer, remember that anxiety is normal.

All speakers feel nervous and often their anxiety is not even visible to their audience. If you feel the panic building up, take deep and long breaths…they will help.

Say ‘NO’ to mugged up speeches…let spontaneity take over….see the magic unfold.

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Checkout the corresponding video here: https://youtu.be/3lkKHBF3mM4.

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