'Forget me not...'
Some tips with memory
A guest at our Toastmaster’ evening last night, asked me how I remember my speech. I’m new to speaking and being I’m (almost) in my mid 50s, it is something that does NOT come naturally to me, believe me! But I thought I would share a few of my little tips in case they are of benefit to you.
Firstly, I choose a topic that I feel passionate about, and make some notes on the things I would like to mention. I usually start the speech with something easy, referring to myself, my husband, or my dogs. Last night’s intro to my speech about ‘The Magic of Reading’ helped me to prepare for my opening lines. I used a book as a prop and pretended I was reading, while I gathered my thoughts. Think of props or tools that may buy you time too!
My speech is written a bit like a story, with a beginning, middle and end. It helps to write this out, either word for word, or with key points. I then put this into clear sections on a piece of paper, in chronological order, or (top tip), I draw a large circle on a blank piece of paper and section it into quarters or thirds, writing the key pieces of my speech into the segments in a clockwise fashion. The segments could contain the following - 1) Intro 2) Main topic
3) Second Main topic 4) Wrapping up. You can draw little pictures or highlight keywords to make it more visual. You can then recall this image of a clock when you make your speech.
When I have a chunk of facts or information I want to remember, I break this down into words or visuals to help. I will try and explain.
My topic of speech last night was on the benefits of reading, and I included the following four areas which all had a few minutes of content. Notice how I highlight the first letter of each.
1) Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
2) Stress Levels
4) Focus & Concentration
The reason I highlight these letters is because I thought of a wacky sentence to remind me of these letters. Reading Sometimes Kills Fish! In my mind it was easy to picture a pond full of fish reading books and dropping dead! Sounds bizarre, but when I got to this section, being able to quickly recall this sentence helped me to give order to each of my topics and ensure I didn’t forget any of them. The more vivid the picture the easier you will recall it!
Adding movement has huge benefits to memory too. Firstly, if you practice your speech out loud whilst walking, it sinks in better. I often practice reciting mine when walking my dogs; the people of Sheringham probably think I’m more than a little crazy!
I also find having direction or movement helps me on the stage. So, when I practice at home, I move from one side of the room to the other, or back to centre, linking with each key point of my speech. You will find the brain and the movement automatically connect, and they back each other up.
Finally, when you practice your speech, I suggest you record yourself or present it to someone. Any parts you forget or get stuck on, go back to your script, and draw a brightly coloured image or find a wacky image to forge it into your head. It really does work!