Learn it … Don’t Memorize It

Here’s one of my favorite rants about a practice I Don’t Get – memorizing a presentation.

There are very few instances when workplace presenters should memorize their presentations. Those cases really call upon us to be actors, not presenters. Memorizing takes way too much time and mental effort and increases the probability that you’ll freeze if you forget a word, phrase or point.  The audience only knows what they hear, not what you should or could have said. So, the answer is to LEARN your presentation, not memorize it.

Practice your presentation out loud several times. Audio tape it so you can hear what the audience hears and critique yourself. Use a minimal amount of notes to help keep you on track and remember key points or facts.

Spend enough time to really nail your introduction and conclusion with the least amount of referring to notes. Given how important they are in delivering audience-centric presentations, they’re worth the effort.

If you include important stats, quotes or a brief poem, it’s OK to memorize them if you can. But no one in your audience will think any less of you if you read those verbatim. That’s entirely logical and appropriate.

So, if you don’t get it either … then simply learn your workplace presentations instead of trying to memorize them.