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Reducing Speech Anxiety: 
10 Memory Tools For Remembering Your Speech

From "EASY SPEAKING" - Tips for Making Your Presentations Fearless and Fabulous
By Patti Wood MA CSP Professional Speaker, Author and Speech Coach

Link to www.SpeechCoachBlog.com for more tips

Many times our anxiety about speaking comes from our fear of forgetting the speech. Here are ten memory tools you can use when preparing your speech to help you overcome this fear. Many of the tips involve linking your content to your senses, because your senses create the strongest links to your memory.

  1. Mind Mapping: Take out a blank, unlined sheet of paper. Turn it sideways (landscape). In the middle of the sheet of paper, write the topic or purpose of your speech. Now using the same principals as group brainstorming (i.e. the more ideas the better), write down whatever comes to mind. Draw lines from your center topic like branches from the trunk of a tree, and on each line put any ideas and thoughts about your speech. Keep putting lines and ideas down for a least ten minutes. Now use thin, colored magic markers and add color, symbols, and illustrations. The end result is a creative brainstorm of all the things you know about your speech. This process uses the right side of the brain where the strongest memory links reside. The right side of the brain is more visual and some of our strongest links are visual. The right brain uses color, scent and symbols to stimulate other sensory memory connections, and it creates pictorial links between points.
  2. Practicing your Speech Out Loud with Body Language: This approach creates memory links through kinesthetic (movement) memory and auditory memory. Instead of merely reading your speech when practicing, get up out of your chair. If you can't corral a person to listen, make your computer a mirror or the sofa your audience. Give your speech with all the movement, voice inflection, and gestures you would use in front of a live audience. Doing this will create links in your brain from the movement and sound to the words. When you repeat these movements and sounds in front of an audience, your speech will flow easily. Repeat the sentence "Your mind don't groove if your body don't move" three times, while swaying to the rhythm of the words. Movement, rhythm and repetition will help you remember your speech content.
  3. Storyboarding:   A story board tells the story of your speech in drawings. The drawings link the content to the right hemisphere of your brain. Take out a blank, unlined sheet of paper or a large piece of newsprint. Divide it into squares, any number from 6 to 12.  Now in each square in the order of your speech, draw a picture or symbol that represents a part of your content. For example, your first point may be that your product saves the client money. You would draw in the first square a big bag of money and a small bag of money. You could even write "Saves You Money" under the picture. In each of the squares, draw something for each point you want to remember. The drawing process links the content to your kinesthetic memory, and the symbols themselves to your symbolic memory.
  4. Sticky Notes and Folders:  A creative way to write and remember your speech is to use a manila folder and brightly colored sticky notes. Open the folder away from you so one tab is at the top and one tab is at the bottom. Take out a colored sticky note and write your attention-getters (the first thing you will say or do). Now stick that inside the folder up under the top tab. On the next sticky note, write—in one sentence—the purpose of the speech, i.e., "Today you will learn the three benefits of…" Stick that below the first sticky note and continue writing your points and sticking them on the folder. You might stick your main contents points across the folder. This process engages tactile memory through the actions of sticking on the notes, and taps into visual memory through bright colors.  Sticky notes enable you to easily make changes.  The playfulness and fun create positive memory links, and also help with the creative process. If you need notes when you get up to give your speech, you can take the closed folder, and then prop it up and open for easy reference. You can even color code the sticky notes, so if you put your last point in blue, you can look down at the blue note only.
  5. Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation helps you remember by getting your brain in sync and by removing stress. Tension and stress can literally make your mind go blank. Relax fully. That may mean lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair, breathing deeply, and tensing and relaxing all your muscle groups from your feet up through your legs, stomach, throat, jaw, and facial muscles. Breathe in on a slow count of three, hold three, and release on a slow count of three, the entire time. You may relax by looking at a peaceful scene (such as a photograph of water or the trees outside your window), or even by taking a walk. When you feel your body totally relaxed, place your hand on your belly, and breathe in and out slowly. The hand on your stomach becomes a physical anchor, linking you to a memory of your relaxed state. Go over your speech. Now whenever you get nervous in front of an audience and have trouble remembering your speech, place your hand on your stomach.  You will become instantly relaxed and will remember your speech.
  6. Music:  Music helps us learn.  For example, rhythmical, soothing Baroque music has a powerful effect on our ability to absorb information and remember it.  Baroque composers (particularly Handel, Vivaldi, Teleman, Corelli and Bach) set out to create music to lift the spirit and free the mind. Its steady tempo parallels brain wave length patterns during a state of “relaxed alertness.” Researcher Dr. Georgi Lozanov says this is the most receptive state for learning. If you enjoy a certain kind of music, play it as you write and practice your speech. This will make your right hemisphere stay alert, thus creating more memory links.
  7. Visualization:  Seeing something the way you want it to be increases your chances for success by encompassing all the senses. Get in a relaxed state and imagine yourself confidently giving your speech. See in your mind the smiles and interested faces of your future audience. Feel a sense of pride, excitement, enthusiasm, and energy that accompanies your speech. Hear in your mind your own strong voice giving your speech, as well as the laughter, or “ah ha’s” of your audience, and the thunderous applause at the end of your speech. We usually imagine ourselves messing up a speech. Visualize your success.
  8. Tape and Listen:  A simple way of remembering your speech is to tape it and play it back many times. This is an especially good technique if you have to give your speech word for word. Get a cassette recorder, or if you have a CD recording set-up with microphone on your computer, use that. Stand up and deliver your speech with full volume, and with all your vocal emphasis. Then play the tape or CD over and over. Play it in your car, play it while you’re on your computer, and play it on a portable system while you walk or mow the lawn. When you give your speech, you will hear your own voice saying the words in your mind and will remember it easily.
  9. Reward Success with "Sense" Prizes:  As you practice your speech, give yourself a sense-related reward at the end of a successful rehearsal to intensify the experience. The reward system creates excitement, anticipation, and sensory links. For example, as you practice, imagine you will give yourself a big dish of mint chocolate chip ice cream, or bag of lime flavored Doritos with spicy salsa; or promise yourself a long hot bath with fragrant bath salts, or a few moments listening to a new CD you haven’t heard yet. Your body tunes into this sensual allure and links it to your successful rehearsal. Reward yourself immediately on completion of the rehearsal, so the links lock in.
  10. Use Humor:  Sometimes we take our speeches much too seriously. Humor and surprise create memory links. Read something funny, like a Dave Barry essay, the Sunday comics, a funny story, or a joke.  Then go over your speech a few times. You now have pleasant memories linked to your speech. If you add humor to your speech, you can make the memory process even stronger.

Copyright © 2007 Patti Wood All Rights Reserved

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