Memorizing Parts That Can Improve Your Presentation

I’m often asked “Should I memorize my speech?”  My answer is “no,” unless you are delivering a highly emotional presentation like an eulogy or a toast. In such a situation,  emotions could overcome you and cause you to lose track of your line of thought unless you have the words in front of you.

However, if you are looking for more security as you speak, here are sentences in your presentation that you might  memorize or at least have written in your notes for quick reference.

  1. Memorize the first line in your speech.  You want to get off to a great start, and having a sentence that grabs the audiences’ attention helps guarantee success.  I recently delivered a keynote for the first day of the meetings for a school system.  I began by naming teachers I had had in school and then made the point that students will remember you because of the influence you will have on their lives in the upcoming year.
  2. Memorize the last line of your speech. People remember best what you say last.  Make the last sentence count.  One of my keynote speeches is called “High Bid.”  In that presentation I suggest we sell ourselves each day by how well we speak and listen.  My ending line is, “May you never sell yourself short and may you always go for the high bid.”
  3. To avoid using inappropriate verbalized pauses, consider memorizing a key transition to guarantee you carefully move from one point to the next.  For example, this would be a good internal summary, “Now that I have talked about first and last lines, let’s move on to transitions.”  This also eliminates the temptation to simply say, “Next I want to talk about…” after each point.
  4. One way to show you have adapted to a specific audience is to develop a sentence that applies uniquely to that group and still relates to your topic. In my keynote to the teachers I thought through and jotted down this line early in the presentation.  “Not only do you have a new group of students but you have a new addition to your high school and a new entry way to Howell Elementary School.”

Though it’s best not to memorize your speech, including a few scripted sentences in your next presentation will give you more confidence as well as adding depth to your speech.

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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