How to remember your presentations

Episode transcript:

Welcome to speaking of influence with John Ball from present

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In this episode, I’m talking about how to remember your presentations, how to remember your content so that you can deliver it in any kind of presentation. It could be a business presentation to your team or your company. It could be a professional presentation to an audience that maybe you want to sell to. It might be a speech at a wedding really anywhere where you want to help yourself. Remember your speech could even be at your local Toastmasters club.

How do you remember your speeches, the strategy that a lot of people seem to take, probably from not really knowing any better, is writing the whole thing out and then trying to memorise the whole damn thing. Maybe that’s from a past of having done theatre productions and learning your lines, that kind of thing. But this isn’t the same. This is your voice. So if you try to say things exactly as you’ve done them, you might really struggle and it’s probably not going to sound natural. There are strategies that you can employ to help you remember what’s in your presentation, without having to use your notes and lean on any kind of crutches at all. And to feel fully confident that you can pull it all together. I’m going to address some of them. There may well be other ones that I don’t get to in this episode. And maybe you have some suggestions for remembering speeches that I might not cover, which I would love to hear as well and maybe we could share with the audience.

The first one is one that you may get from a company or organisation like Toastmasters International, plan out your presentation and know what you want to say, script, the start, script the end but the middle part, the content part, you want to bullet point it and just be able to go through each bullet on there without having it formally scripted, so that you have some room to ad-lib. And you’re not trying to remember exactly word for word, what your presentation is supposed to sound like. So that’s a great way to do things: script the start, script the end, remember those. Learn those because that’s not a big part to learn. And then in the middle, your content part is just bullet points that allow you to ad-lib.

One method that I have used before The Cicero cards, I’ll try and get them, the light isn’t shining on them. So there’s an episode that I have out with this from a while back with Sefirot publishing, which is Andrea and Matteo, and they are the creators and publishers of the Cicero cards., They’re a great way to visually help you to plan your presentation, I’ll put a link to that into the description so that you can go and get your own set of Cicero cards. They have some other great products that you like, I know that in the episode that I recorded with them, they were talking about some of their plans for card decks that are coming up as well. The creativity pack is really good. The storytelling pack is really good. So I recommend getting the whole set if you’re up for it. But at least if you’re doing presentations, definitely get yourself a set of Cicero cards. You can layout your presentation, structure it and have it on post-it notes and have it as visual cues as well. Because it’s nicely visual, we tend to have better visual memories for things. So using something like this, the Cicero cards can really help you You’re more likely to remember that layout and you can even stick it up so that you can see it regularly whilst you’re preparing or practising for your presentation. I think it’s better than having a script in front of you that may be difficult to follow.

Times where it may be okay to use a script is for doing something like this some sort of webcam recording, where you may be delivering a longer message by yourself. In which case, you could use a script. But the trouble with that is, unless you actually have a good teleprompter setup, you still may look a bit unnatural, people are still going to see that you’re reading. And a lot of people don’t read the same way that they talk. So sounding natural whilst you’re reading is challenging in itself, but it could be good. There are some teleprompter apps that you can use. Some of them are free to download as well. And easier if you have a Mac possibly I don’t know what’s available on PC I’m afraid, but they can help you at least with practising your speech.

Which brings us to practising! Practising is really the number one way to make sure you remember your presentation. Don’t expect that you’re just going to get out there and deliver it. In fact, I was just chatting on an episode recording recently, which will be out around the end of the month with an amazing lady who is a presentation skills expert. And one of the things that she was saying is that you just can’t go out there and think that you’re going to be able to improvise in the middle of your presentation. It just won’t work. You have to be prepared for this and you need to practice. So even if it’s not a professional presentation, practice, practice, practice, it’s the best thing that you can do. It’s going to help you get it solid inside your mind. Practice your movement with your presentation as well. So that you know it’s embodied and you actually really own it. Then the more you do it, the easier it will get. It’s been said that amateurs will practice until they get it right, professionals will practice until they can’t get it wrong. So be the one who practices until you can’t get it wrong.

Some of the other things that can help you with memorising a speech or remembering or your content is to use flashcards. So, they can be useful. Have your bullet points there, go through them regularly refresh your mind on them. Review your presentation regularly as well in advance of delivering it. If you have to do something a bit more off the cuff. Well, really, if you get more experience in giving presentations, it does get easier to do that. And you can more comfortably do it. I have talked about the 4mat structure before in an episode, but if you use this structure, you probably could never really run out of things to talk about, you’ll always find a way to deliver something. So remember this structure of 4mat. You, first of all, deliver the why; why do you need to know this? Why am I talking about this? What you’re answering for your audience is ‘why should I care?’ ‘Why should I care what you’re talking about? Tell me’. You have to get that first. Once you’ve got the Why should I care, then you’re going to go into the what; what it is I’m actually talking about? The data element of your presentation. Then you will go into the how; how are we going to use this? How do I do this? Maybe a bit of a practical element there, or maybe some kind of demonstration, or even figures or slides or whatever you choose to use in your presentation? Then you’re going to go to what next? Or what if? So, you might be presupposing some questions that people might be asking, okay, well, what about in this situation? Would that still apply? Or would it need to change? Or what do they do with this? Now, what next? Okay, we’ve had the meeting, we’ve talked about this, what comes next? If you have those four elements in your presentation, you won’t go too far wrong. So why, what, how, what next/what if. Why, what, how, what if or what next. So that’s why. what, how, what if or what next. Get that into your brain, and you will be able to talk about just about anything without probably running out of things to say, or at least sounding like you somewhat know what you’re talking about.

A great way to help you remember presentations as well is to turn some keywords or key points of your presentation into a story. So link it as your mind as again as a visual story. So you this is sometimes called a visual stack. And that’s what you want to create. So that you have an idea of what comes next in your presentation. You’re going to build up a visual story of images that help you remember what comes next and then create a story around those. So it’s a great method for helping you to remember stuff we remember stories very well. Even crazy ones that we end up creating ourselves. We can remember them far better than just trying to remember bullet points or keywords when you tell those keywords or points into visual images, they become much more memorable. This means that you can have a little story that you construct together that leads you through each of the elements of your presentation and makes it easy for that to come back to you as and when you need it.

The next memory device I’m going to talk about his memory palaces. This is a technique that has been used for a long time by memory experts to help them remember long sequences of information. And it works by thinking about the rooms that you know really well. So you would maybe start with your own living room, and you’re going to mentally pick an association between what you want to remember to an item in your living room. And then so might be a lamp, for example, maybe the first item you start with is a lamp and perhaps you’re going to do the start of your presentation there which could be your introduction or your greeting, then maybe you’re going to move to an armchair and then you’re going to tag something else to that. So, at the armchair you’ve got this, again, using visual representations of your presentation points here is going to help. So for your greeting of the lamp, you might have the handshake or the welcome everybody however, you’re going to do your, your initial greeting. From there you go to perhaps you’re going to go into a story. So you might put on the armchair a storybook is on the armchair to help you remember that. Then you maybe go to the TV, and the next part you’re going to go into is an explainer for your content. So perhaps there’s a documentary on the TV that helps you remember, okay, this is the explain apart. So carry on like this, and it’s going to help you remember sequences and orders of things. It’s a really useful technique and can be very effective. Don’t leave it to the last minute to come up with your memory palace. Again, the more practice you can be with using it, the easier it’s going to be to actually implement it into your presentation and to utilise it. If you need to the last minute is going to be hard to remember it still.

I think another great way to help you remember some of your presentation more, is to record yourself giving your presentation. So if you do script it out, or if you have some practice version of it that you like, have it recorded, listen back to it, play it back to yourself, and make sure it’s as memorable to you. That’s good advice. Anyway, this all requires some level of practice, but you know what, even if you need to get a presentation and you need to mentally rehearse it and practice it, being able to listen to it back and visualise yourself, giving the presentation is going to help you as well. So mental rehearsal is definitely good. I know from personal experience of using state rehearsal, mental rehearsal is very useful. And it can even help you with terms of state management as well, that you want to watch yourself delivering the presentation in the way that you would really want to deliver it with the level of energy that you want to deliver that with as well so that you’re visualising that the best that you could possibly ever do it. So, it’s more likely then that you’ll get up on a stage and platform and be able to deliver it that way.

So, these are just some of the things that I have used to help me remember presentations in the past as well. I do think out of all of them practice is the key one that runs through all of them. And so make sure that you give yourself time to practice your presentations. If you have less than ideal time to do that, then you can try some of these perhaps mental shortcuts that we’ve mentioned, that may help you out. Please do not read out your presentations, do not rely on flashcards when you’re actually delivering and let go of the crutch of needing to have your notes with you as soon as you possibly can. If you’re starting out in a public speaking practice club, you can definitely start with your notes if you need to, and move away from them but as quickly as you can. It’s important to let go of that crutch but I understand sometimes when it’s your first presentation or that you have a lot of fear about getting up on the stage and delivering it, having that comfort of knowing that if you get really lost, your notes are there to help you out can be really useful. So in those situations is absolutely fine. But if you’re giving something a bit more formal, you want it to be a bit more spectacular, you want to make an impact, have it well-practised, be prepared, and leave the need for your notes behind.

So those are my tips on how to remember your material for any kind of presentation. Hope they’ve been useful. I hope you’ll share some of your tips as well. Or tell me if you find these tips useful if you’re going to use them, implement them yourself in your own public speaking and presentation work. And I’m going to look forward to catching up with you again on Friday. Friday. This week is going to be part two of my interview with Matthew Dicks, the author of Storyworthy, it was an incredible interview so good I had to put it into two parts because it was just too much information to put it all out in one go. So I hope you’ll come back and join us for that. Check out the first part if you haven’t already listened to it. I’ll be back next week with some more great stuff about how to do great presentations with impact, remember them all kinds of tools and tips, some presentation skills and the tools of influence and persuasion. Make sure you like and subscribe when I say on YouTube. Now smash the like button. If there’s a Like button, you can smash, go ahead and smash it. But subscribe. If you’re on YouTube, click the bell icon, you’ll get notified for all my new videos, you can even tune in to some of my daily content, which is a little bit different, cover some different things each day, some of them relating to presentation skills, and some of them in some slightly different areas as well. Come and connect with me on LinkedIn, if you’d like to connect and speak, LinkedIn is the best place to find me. I’m looking to be a guest on some podcasts at the moment. So if you have some suggestions for who I would make a good guest for that you think would be a good fit, then I’d love to hear that as well. So, other than that, let’s say Sayonara for now, and I’ll see you Friday.

Thanks for listening. I hope you’ve enjoyed With the show if you’d like to get in touch with me, please send an email to john at you can check out my website present influence dot com as well. Lots of updates and information of previous shows and stuff that’s coming up as well, including training courses and webinars. The best place to connect with me online is LinkedIn. So if you’d like to come and find me on LinkedIn, you can also find that I post my daily videos up there as well. And I’d love to get any kind of feedback you might have about the show. If you have suggestions for guests or any kind of feedback that might help us to improve the podcast, then I would love to hear it. All that remains for me to say is glad you enjoyed the show. Thanks for sticking with us. And please make sure that you have liked and subscribed. Have a great day.

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