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A Theatre Director’s Secrets to Memorizing a Presentation for Maximum Impact on Stage!

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Practice, practice, practice!

The more you practice your speech, the easier it will be to remember it… right?

Well, when most people first come to me, they are practicing ALL wrong!! And if you’re practicing wrong, it’s not helpful at all!

If you are someone who dreads practicing your presentation, it may be because you have been told that’s the way to do it, to get the flow. However, that is absolutely wrong and here’s why:

Most people hunker down in their rehearsal space (office, living room, on a walk), start from the beginning of their presentation, and try to go all the way through. Just powering their way through the entire presentation until it’s done.

Then, they sigh with relief that they practiced and can move on with their day. But are they truly prepared to give an impactful presentation?

As a director of professional theatre, I can tell you there is a process to rehearsing a show that helps the actors memorize and deliver an outstanding performance. The same process can be used for a presentation.

The first step is a readthrough of the script. This is just getting the language in our body and the flow along with discovering moments of how we may want to deliver it. This is purely reading. No memorization is happening right now.

In shows where I am the first director, this is where we hear the lines out loud for the first time and take notes. We highlight the areas to tweak so we don’t disrupt the flow of the read right then. Again, this is discovery mode.

Next, we break the speech down into smaller chunks and focus on memorizing one chunk at a time. This will make the task of memorizing the entire speech more manageable. The secret here is to work on the most difficult areas and largest sections first.

Why? These sections will need more time to get into our mind and body. Tackling the most difficult part first makes every other section easy!

Then, we use a variety of memory techniques, such as visualization or association, to help remember the speech. For example, you can try creating mental images of the key points in your speech or associating each point with a specific location in a familiar place on stage.

Once we get a section down, we take time to record it, and each performer reviews the recording. This can help you catch any mistakes and lets you hear how the speech sounds, which can make it easier to remember.

Next, we start putting all of the pieces together and working on the transitions from one piece to the next.

Once everything is together, we finally move to a full run through of the entire thing.

Throughout this process, remember to relax and try to stay calm. Don’t get frustrated if you’re not remembering a sentence perfectly. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, it can be harder to remember anything, let alone a speech. So take some deep breaths, clear your mind, and focus on the task at hand, getting as familiar as you can with each wonderful nuance that will help engage your listeners.


Much Love,

Misty Megia
Hi, I'm Misty Megia!

I’m a Creative Director for high-achieving leaders who want to unmute themselves to give presentations that move people profoundly through my Corporate Speaking Program and my Theatre of Public Speaking Program.

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