Never forget what you want to say … how to remember your presentation without notes

Never forget what you want to say … how to remember your presentation without notes

Category: Presenting

Never forget what you want to say … how to remember your presentation without notes

This month I was asked how I remember a presentation without notes and the answer is practice, the Loci method and chunking … not in that order! It’s a technique I’m still working on but here’s what I do.

First, I type up what I want to say in full, read it aloud and make the changes I want until it’s what I want.

Second, I “chunk” the content under headings so that I have maybe 10 – 20 points (depending on the length of the presentation and what MUST be included).

Third, I practice with just the chunked headings and a few notes, rather than the script, and once I’m comfortable with the flow and that I have the right chunks I move onto the memory element.

For this I use the Loci Method which I first learnt on a Dale Carnegie course back in the 80’s but the method dates back to the Greeks.

You think of a route you take often, your home or a room in your home and make a list of locations. For example, if I stand in the door of my kitchen and look left there is 1) A fruit bowl 2) The cooker hob 3) The toaster 4) The kettle 5) The sink 6) The Microwave … and so on. I know what’s in my kitchen so I don’t have to think very hard to remember the items and the order that I see them.

Once you have the chunks and the locations you can start to create a picture in your mind linking the two together to make them memorable.

For example, if I wanted to talk about Partners With You, my chunks might be …
1) how scared some of our clients are, 2) the team of actors I work with and that they learn amazing skills we can all use to help us feel more confident. 3) might be a story about the difference we made for a client and 4) could be that our clients aren’t just senior people and that we also work with graduates, drivers and car park attendants who have to deliver their messages clearly too … and so on.

Now, I need to create a picture to link each chunk to the location. The more outlandish you can make the picture the easier you will make it to recall. If in doubt remember that the brain remembers the bad, mad, lewd and crude!

I might picture a particularly scared client standing in the middle of the fruit bowl with a huge head and her eyes closed in terror, tears rolling down her face and the sides of the bowl are lots of arms pointing at her. I can hear people laughing as they point and she is willing the floor to open beneath her. She is definitely going to remind me to talk about how scared our clients can be.

On the cooker hob I might picture specific people in our team standing on each ring in the dancing flames (it’s a gas hob) and each of them is doing a drama school exercise – one pulling their bolero, another doing voice exercises. They may all be wearing costumes or not … anything that makes the picture madder and more memorable. The client in my story (chunk 3) would be in the toaster and so on …

Then it’s down to practice! Once linked, I can follow the route and if I’m lost I can go back to the point in the kitchen and I’ll know what comes next.

Try it with a shopping list first and you’ll see how easy it is. Link the first 10 items to a route that you know well or a route around your house and before you leave the shop check the route for the items on your list. If the pictures were memorable, you won’t miss anything off.