Basketball great and Sportsman of the Year, Jerry Lucas relayed in his book “Memory Book” about the time when he gave a speech at a high school athletic banquet and was approached by a young man after the dinner. The youth came up to him and said, “Mr. Lucas, I enjoy watching you play basketball – but I thought that was the worst speech I ever heard in my life.”

Of course it came as a surprise to him, but it got Lucas to thinking about other speeches he had heard where the words were read directly from notes and the speaker never looked up. The speech was dull and sounded rehearsed. 

Giving a speech takes preparation over a period of days, and although it is good to know your material, memorizing it word for word is not the best way to do it either, and it isn’t necessary.

As Lucas says, if you are asked to give a speech about a particular subject, obviously you know something about it. That’s the first step. Know your material. 

Secondly, when repeating a speech from memory word for word it sounds it sounds like a script – unemotional and just like you are reading it off the paper. It also opens up the possibility that if you lose your train of thought you will stumble through the rest of the speech trying to get back on track.

The best speeches I ever heard came from the heart. They were on a subject the speaker was knowledgeable and passionate about, and the delivery got me caught up along with everyone else. The speaker was able to hold the audience entranced while he or she delivered their thoughts as if they were just tumbling off the top of their head.

I realize that making a speech can make very successful people quake in their boots, but if they practice memory improvement techniques, and have sufficiently prepared and practiced your  thoughts, repeating them several times a day until you are comfortable with what you want to say, you will do fine. The more you practice the more confident in their delivery you will become and the audience won’t have a clue about the butterflies in their stomach.

As a memory speaker, I make speeches often, and although I still get a little pinch of anticipation before I have to make a speech, I know my material and am comfortable I can speak about it even without note cards to help me – not just because I am a memory guy, but because I am confident I am prepared.

For more advice on giving speeches without notes check out my public speaking program.

 From the desk of Ron White



Memory Book, by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas