Forgetting our words is probably the most prominent fear when giving a presentation. Using PowerPoint is an excellent way to reduce that anxiety. Simple slides can act as a memory aid in a similar way to paper notes. However, standard advice from expert presenters is to build rapport with an audience through friendly and engaging body language. This is much harder to do from behind a pile of prompt cards. Or indeed, when constantly glancing at a screen.
You should never depend upon a PowerPoint but only ever use it as a visual for your audience. By reducing the amount of aids, you can focus your listeners’ attention back onto you; what you are saying, the presentation you are giving and the points you are making. So below are suggestions and memory techniques to help you remember a presentation without the use of too many aids.
First things first: consider yourself and your presentation style. Are you the type of person who can spontaneously express themselves? Or do you need to prepare your speech in advance? Know whether you can go with the flow or if you need to learn stock phrases and remember particular expressions. Use your limited aids to either remember an idea that you can articulate in the moment or remember a prepared monolog.
For example, some people find it useful to create transition sentences, while others might find remembering these an information overload. Creating some fluid phrases to take you between points can be very helpful. However, find a balance; over preparing your presentation can make it seem robotic.
One of the most popular and interesting memory techniques is called the Palace Method. It is also referred to as the Mind Palace. It is commonly used by memory athletes and was famously used by the Romans to remember their ancient speeches. In today’s world, it is a great method through which to remember presentations. The best part? You don’t need any aids at all; the reminders are all in your head.
The Palace Method works through the neurological connection between space and memory. Use the technique by firstly making a list of each main point of your presentation and highlighting a keyword for each one. Then decide upon a well-known location to be your Mind Palace. This could be your home, your route to work or your childhood school. Apply the keywords to visual images that you encounter while walking your imaginary Mind Palace pathway. Focus on the key visuals along the way, each of which connects to an essential point of your presentation. Be sure to explore your Mind Palace numerous times and become familiar with your pathway through it.
Joshua Foer particularly endorses this technique for presentations in his TED Talk “Feats Of Memory Anyone Can Do”. He claims that by taking a mental journey, key points become more memorable. We combine images with ideas, and a large amount of information can become colorful, engaging and meaningful. One more tip: the wackier, funny and stranger the image, the easier it is to remember!
The creation of mind maps is another great memory technique. They also work through visual learning and can help you to remember the key points of a presentation through color, shape, and image. This type of information is much easier to retain and recall than long lists and traditional notes. Create an engaging diagram outlining your presentation; you will remember the key points of your presentation easier without the need to use additional aids.
Use Your Body
You can productively remember a presentation by using your body as an aid. By assigning keywords to body parts, you can follow a movement from your head to feet according to the progress of your speech. It might seem like a strange memory tool, but it can be very effective. It is especially powerful when you apply the most important points of your presentation to large areas like the head, stomach, and hands, using the smaller features like ears, toes and fingers to remember extra details.
Practice Makes Perfect
Any expert presenter will disclose that practice plays a key role in a successful presentation. However, some ways of rehearsing are more efficient than others. There is no use in mindlessly recalling your presentation without engaging with the information. For example, it is imperative to concentrate entirely on memorizing notes for at least eight seconds at a time. This means no distractions whatsoever, including the buzzing of your phone or the ping of an email alert. Our minds need an uninterrupted period of eight seconds to transfer information into memory.
Other rehearsal rules include speaking out loud. By practicing actively through psychically talking, we internalize the message of a presentation. Rather than a recital of information, it can become a speech that we deliver with passion and energy. Furthermore, speaking aloud improves memory capacity. Practicing a presentation to music is another common technique. Numerous sensual aids help us to remember things, including audial tools. Music stimulates the mind, engaging both the right and left sides of the brain. Such stimulation makes absorbing information much easier.
There is a strong connection between sleep and learning. Therefore, practicing a presentation just before you go to bed can also help you remember. The relaxed state enhances the solidifying of a concept. Without being forced or stressed, the mind can transfer information more efficiently into the memory. A final piece of rehearsal advice is to record your spoken presentation and to listen back to it. This simple technique relays the information back to you, helping you to remember it. It also allows you to hear your speech from the audience’s point of view. With this fresh perspective, you might notice mistakes or issues that you before overlooked.
Conclusion: Confidence is key!
Completely memorizing a presentation can be a daunting task. Confidence plays a vital role in a fantastic presentation. If remembering an entire speech is too overwhelming, and you feel more relaxed using aids, that’s fine! Just remember to be minimal. With practice, you can learn to recite an entire presentation without any aids at all. Ultimately, you will have more energy to focus on your audience, your passion, and your message.