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Business and technical presentations: The only parts you should memorize.

leonsergent communications - Prise de parole en public/Public Speaking

A question I am often asked, whether during workshops or coaching sessions with professionals, is about memorizing a presentation. "Do you have to memorize your whole presentation?" My answer is, more often than not, "Please don’t, not the whole presentation!" Even if you managed to memorize all your text, here are some of the pitfalls that lie ahead for you should you convince yourself to make the unnecessary effort to recite from memory:

  1. If you draw a blank, you might have a hard time getting back to your script and the audience will notice that.
  2. An interruption or a question could cause you to lose the logical thread of your speech.
  3. A recitation doesn't feel natural, and your audience might doubt your sincerity.
  4. The audience may feel that this presentation is one-sided and that you are neither listening to them nor in symbiosis with their needs.
  5. You will be so afraid of making a mistake that you will lose sleep at night!

Here are the only parts to memorize and practice until you cannot make a mistake anymore: (1) The opening remarks, (2) Your summary of the presentation in three short sentences, and (3) The conclusion that follows logically from that summary. As for the body of the presentation, speak in your own words about what you are reading on your slides on the screen. If that's your area of expertise, you will speak to this with ease and will not need to refer to notes or memorization. The opening, the summary, and the conclusion are the highlights you cannot fumble. These are the moments when you'll capture your audience's attention, demonstrate the logic behind your recommendation, and end on a strong note that will engage your listeners.

Sleep better and good luck!

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