No, not a double episode of 'Dancing With The Stars'. No - something much more terrifying. Much more pain-inducing. Something the mere mention of which can send shivers down your spine and make your palms start to sweat
Or as Jerry Seinfeld put it - at a funeral, given a choice the average person would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy! And if public speaking isn't top of your list of favourite things to do then you're not alone.
FACT: The number 1 fear in a US study of 3,000 adults was public speaking (Book of Lists, 1995).
FACT: In a famous 1993 study by the polling firm Bruskin-Goldring, more people said they feared public speaking than death! (45% versus 30%)
Love it or hate it - and let's face it most of us hate it - your ability to stand in front of a group of your fellow humans, talk coherently and not descend into a nervous gibbering-wreck is *important*.
It has a huge impact on your success. And what others think of you.
So what's all this got to do with memory?
A lot. Public speaking creates stress. Stress makes you forget... including what you were going to say! Ever gone blank in front of a group? Not a pleasant feeling is it? One of the secrets to delivering great presentations is to use memory techniques.
Memory techniques for public speaking.
This frees you up to focus on connecting with your audience rather than worrying about whether you'll go blank.
Presenting Without Notes... A 3 Step Approach
Imagine... captivating your audience and not referring to notes even once. Here's a 3 step approach to get you started.
Step 1: Create A Journey
A mental journey. Use locations you already know well such as your home. For example you could imagine opening your front door then walking through your house or apartment one room at a time in a logical order. Do this several times until the order of your journey through the rooms is fixed in your mind. Each of the rooms represents a 'stop' in your journey.
Or you could use a real journey you make regularly e.g. from home to work, college or a friend's house. Go through the journey in your mind and select key landmarks as you progress from home to your destination. Each of these visual landmarks is a 'stop' in your journey.
You can have as many 'stops' in your journey as you like, but 10 is a good number to get you started. Again, select your stops then run through the journey in your head several times until you have a clear and logical order to your journey that you remember.
Whatever you choose for your journey, the aim is the same. To create a mental journey with a number of stops that you can run through easily in your head.
Step 2: Create Images For Your Key Points
Next, review your presentation and pick out the key points. These are the main messages that you'd like your audience to remember.
For each key point imagine a vivid mental image. For example, if you were presenting on food and your first key point related to say... sausages... you might imagine several large, juicy sausages browning nicely on a BBQ. Or even sausages stood around the BBQ drinking beer! Use your senses to make your images memorable. Add sights, sounds and smells…Mmm, smells good!
Continue to create vivid mental images for each of your key points.
Step 3: Connect Your Key Points To Your Journey
Finally, simply connect the image for your first key point to the first stop in your journey using lots of action, imagination and humour.
Using the sausage example, you might imagine walking into your home and there's a real smell of burning. You walk into your first room and there's several large sausages standing around a BBQ talking and drinking beer. And they're actually cooking their children on the BBQ!
Hopefully you've now got a vivid and somewhat bizarre mental image in your mind! An image that will be difficult to forget... especially when you're standing in front of a large group of people making a fabulous presentation.
Simply connect each of the key points from your presentation to the stops in your journey in the order you want to present your information.
Once you've finished, mentally run through your journey to check that your images are strong and that the key points you've linked to each of the stops come back to you easily.
When you present, run through your journey in order and all your key points will be there for you.
Hey presto... no need for notes!
The Final Word: Don't die the next time you have to present. And don't subject your poor audience to death by PowerPoint either! Give the 3 step approach a go and make your presentations stick!
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