Me: Yeah, you know, schoolwork you do at home. So, have you got any?
Bryan: I’m not sure. I don’t remember what the teacher said.
Me: How many times have I told you to note down your homework assignments?
Bryan: Oh, wait a minute. I think I remember noting something down. Here it is. Yes, I have to write a book report for Monday.
Me: Fantastic! I’m proud of you, Bryan! You see how noting things down is important.
Bryan: Papá, just one problem. I forgot to bring the book home…
My son is not alone in having trouble remembering things (I also have a wife, but that’s another story)… Many participants on our public speaking courses comment that they find it difficult to remember everything they want to say in their presentations. The most obvious solution to this problem is to prepare well. You should never make a presentation without first rehearsing what you are going to say…out loud! Practising your presentation out loud will not only give you a feel for the language you are going to use, it will also help you memorise the order and flow of what you want to say: first this, then this, then that and so on. You can also make notes if you feel this will help. Imitate television presenters and use small cards that you can hold in one hand easily. This will allow you to continue gesturing with both hands as you speak. Just write the key words necessary to jog your memory and only look at the cards if you get stuck.
But what else can you do to remember what you need to say? And by the way, you’re not the only one who needs to remember your presentation. What about the audience? They’re the people who really need to remember it! After all, that’s why you’re giving the presentation, right? So, how can you make it more memorable for both your audience and you? Here are a few ideas to get you started. In each case, imagine you have to give a presentation with a three or four-part structure and you’re worried you might forget something –or worse still that your audience won’t remember your main points.
Alliteration: Use words that begin with the same sound to label each section in the presentation. For example, if you structure a sales presentation around your product’s benefits you could make it more memorable by labelling the sections Convenience – Compatibility – Cost. Or in a marketing presentation, you might talk about Product- Price-Place-Promotion.
Acronyms: In this case each letter in the acronym represents the first letter of one of your section labels. For example, every US school student is taught that the easiest way to remember the five Great Lakes is HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior). It’s not that difficult to transfer this idea to a business presentation. How about a project update presentation that deals with Assignments – Requirements – Timings (ART).
Acrostics: Another initial letter memory technique, but this time the first letter of each word in a statement represents a target word to be remembered. For example, ‘My Dear Aunt Sally’ is often used to teach children the correct sequence for mathematical operations (Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract). Once again, a little creativity can go a long way to solving your memory problems. Acrostics and acronyms are particularly useful if you need to remember information in the correct order.
OK, you say, but you’ve forgotten that I have a bad memory. How will I ever remember these ideas? Easy…you just need to think A-A-A (Alliteration – Acronyms – Acrostics). And that’s something even my son can remember!