Speeches have the power to move people, to change minds, to impact life choices, make people fall in love and view the world differently.
John F. Kennedy, Lou Gehrig, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela all spoke from the heart and the wisdom of genuine life experience--their powerful messages were free from the bonds of any script.
The key is to memorize a speech so well that you can forget it, similar to a flutist who no longer needs to think about where she puts her fingers on the holes of her instrument.
I don't know about you, but I can count on one hand the speeches that truly changed my life. They were memorable because nothing got in the way of the speaker's personality, passion, and message.
A proficient preparation can trigger a deeply impactful performance to effect maximum change in any audience.
Here's an insider tip:
Memorization actually isn't about remembering the words--it's about absorbing them into your body's rote memory.
A solid method of memorization allows you to imprint the words into your subconscious so that you never have to stop and think about what comes next, similar to the way you recite your phone number.
An organized technique allows you to be more responsive in real time, with genuine reactions, facial expressions, and natural inflections of speech--all elements which contribute to a powerful sense of authenticity.
I've developed a method of memorization to help my clients memorize faster with less effort, to effect maximum change in their audiences.
Select a peaceful place. Read your speech out loud--don't attempt to do so with any type of delivery or emotional cadence.
Speak the words neutrally, seeing what you're saying as you're saying it.
Make a small line on the page to indicate one read-through.
Repeat this process, marking another small line that crosses the original line (like a plus sign). The plus sign indicates that you have read the speech out loud, with neutral delivery, twice.
Now, read the speech a third and fourth time in the exact same manner, making diagonal lines that bisect your plus sign.
On the fifth read-through, make a circle around all the bisecting lines, thus creating a pinwheel.
The goal is to create as many pinwheels as possible everyday until you know it like the alphabet, and you can abandon your note cards. Think of these pinwheels as wheels driving you closer to being completely memorized.
With the words fully internalized in this manner, you can focus your energy on actually having fun, being inspirational, and conveying the meaning of the words you're trying to express.
It's not enough to simply "feel" memorized. You need to test what you've achieved.
A basic ball toss exercise can truly illuminate this. With a partner, take turns throwing a handball back and forth as you recite your speech.
If you're working alone, throw the object up and down. Regardless, move around the room so that you don't get stuck in a pattern.
Your goal is to speak the speech as quickly as possible in a neutral voice. If there's any moment during this exercise where your hand holds onto the ball, unable to release it, you need to mark those words as not fully memorized.
The ball toss is a great preparation before big speeches because it helps to create a sense of urgency, and assesses your level of preparedness.
Solid memorization creates a sturdy foundation so you can win that big promotion, secure a major investor for your startup, successfully pitch your revolutionary, etc.--and ultimately reach your greatness potential.