What’s The Rule On Memorization?

This morning I walk from the living room to the kitchen to tell my husband something. In less than 10 seconds I forgot what I want to say. I had to go back in the living room to retrieve it.

Two weeks ago, I did a 25 minute speech and remembered everything I planned to say and more!

Memory is fickle. And as a speaker, add in adrenaline, rapid heart beat and a grumpy audience member and your memorized speech may float away and land in that infamous lost sock collection.

So – you ask, “Should I memorize my speech?”

It depends. My preference, as a coach is to inquire with you before giving a blanket answer to these kinds of questions, but since I can’t do that – let’s break this down.

How Long Is Your Presentation?

I’ve seen many, many exceptional speakers using notes – especially in 30 – 45 minutes presentations. They are succinct and engaging. I never felt cheated, until…I saw a famous architect take her place behind a lectern, face down in her notes and read us her speech.

How Do You Skillfully Use Notes?

When using notes, your delivery should have a flavor of spontaniety, fresh, alive and authentic – riding the wave of an easy tone, well-timed pauses and true emotion – just like a speech without notes.

Imagine the words coming off the page, moving through you and expressing through your voice, body and gestures. The message is expressed, not read.

Unlike the famous architect, you’ll want to spend more time looking at your audience, than at your notes. To do that skillfully – read on.

Steps To Prepare And Use Notes

  • Practice your speech daily.
  • Be thoroughly acquainted with the organization of your topics.
  • If you have a personal introduction, you know this information firsthand. No need to look at your notes.
  • If you have a story, share it without notes.


  • Type your notes using font size 14 and up.
  • Divide your topic sections with spaces.
  • Headline topic sections with: Opening, Point #1, Closing
  • Number your pages.
  • Don’t staple them together.

One Additional Point

For beginning or speakers who are extremely nervous, I say  – use your notes if it offers you greater calm and confidence.

Likely, no one in the audience walks away grumbling you used notes. With your nerves at ease because your notes are close by, you’ll be able to do the most important thing: inspire and move your audience.