Helping People Remember Your Speech

We want our audience members to remember the point of each speech. To make it easier for the listener to retain information, we must speak our key ideas in different ways so that listeners will take our ideas with them.

Preview your ideas. In the introduction, tell the audience what your two or three major ideas will be. Not only will this begin the process for the audience to remember ideas, but also it will get their attention since you are giving them specific directions on what you want them to consider.

Internal summary is another way to remind the audience of your ideas. In the middle of your speech, you summarize. “Now that we have talked about the importance of the preview, let us move on to the use of internal summary” would be an example. In addition, the internal summary allows you smooth movement from one point to another and will keep you from using the verbalized pause as a transition.

A change of pace is to give an idea special attention. Suggestions are, “Be sure to put a star by this point,” or, “You may forget other things I say, but remember this point.”  Only do this once or twice in your speech, but in this way you can give key thoughts billboard position.

Don’t forget the value of supporting a point with an example. You are tying the point to a story which reinforces the idea for the listener. People tend to remember what you say after you begin with, “Let me give you an example of that point.” 

Finally, include a question and answer period at the end of your presentation. In answering questions, you reinforce key ideas or you are able to give more illustrative material to instill a thought in the minds of the listeners. You might answer a question with, “As I mentioned earlier…” and then say the point with a different piece of support.

Oscar Wilde said, “Memory is the diary we all carry with us.”  Use these techniques to encourage each listener to enlarge his or her “memory diary.”

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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