Giving a speech feels hard and that feeling is so common that a majority of people would rather die than speak publicly. But when it is inevitable, maybe as the best man, mother of the bride, or a speech assignment for class, we turn to memorization.
Why? Because we assume that if we know and remember what to say, we won’t embarrass ourselves. Slightly effective, but it comes with its own limitations.
Here, I will show you how to memorize a speech with 15 examples worth referencing.
But first, let’s go over how to write a speech, because it doesn’t matter how well you memorize one if the content is bad.
The anxiety that fuels the need to memorize a speech comes from either not knowing what to say or how to say it. A sure fire way to overcome that is by writing the speech.
And contrary to what you might think, it is not hard to write a good speech. If you know how to have a meaningful conversation, moving from point A to point B, you can write a speech. You just need to follow these tips.
How exactly you start depends on the context of your speech. For instance, you may need to introduce yourself if your audience isn’t familiar with you. This is unnecessary if you’ve been introduced or you’re speaking among your peers.
But the main point here is about how you start your speech. The goal is to explain the what and why in a way that captures the audience’s attention.
It could be a famous quote, a shocking statement, or a rhetorical question. As long as it gets ears to perk up and eyes to focus on you.
Now that you have their attention, it is time to hold it. As the speaker, the audience expects a path and destination from you. They want to know where the gist leads and why the point matters.
Each paragraph in your speech must have a central point and connect with the next. Don’t try and stuff everything you know about the subject in the paragraphs. Focus on the key issues and maintain clear, logical transitions from idea to idea.
That is why it is crucial to understand the purpose of the speech. Are you trying to entertain, argue a point, inspire, or educate? The answer will inform the structure and overall tone of the speech.
When you write a speech, tailor your language and ideas to your audience. The way you speak in a school seminar is different from how you will talk at your best friend’s wedding, and there is no place where this matters more than in your anecdotes.
Countless studies have shown that our brains remember stories pretty well. That means if you want your speech to be memorable, you have to sprinkle some of them in there to illustrate your points.
That way, even if the facts and figures fly over their heads, the story will stick. And the good thing about anecdotes is, you don’t have to memorize them.
No matter how great every line in your speech is, there will be moments when the audience drifts off. Use transitions to recall their attention. It signals to them that the oncoming part is worth paying attention to.
There are different ways to deploy this. It could be a rhetorical question like “Why does this matter?” followed by a pause, just long enough to create anticipation.
Other examples include “So here’s the lesson” or “In a similar fashion.”
Your audience won’t remember everything you say, but they are more likely to remember the last thing you said to them. That means, alongside the introduction, this is an integral part of your speech.
Summarize the speech using sentences that drive home the main point. You can do this by repeating a few key takeaways or sharing an anecdote that illustrates the point.
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Hopefully, after reading that section, you are starting to get the idea. Once you know what to say and how to say it, you’ve cracked the first step to memorizing a speech.
The next thing is to observe a few steps, and you are well on your way to delivering a captivating speech from memory.
After writing the speech, try reading it out loud. The goal here is to figure out how it sounds to fix what doesn’t work.
You can add, delete, or reorder parts of the speech until it sounds compelling and natural during this phase. Like something you wouldn’t mind sitting through yourself.
This process could take a few times, so feel free to pause and come back with fresh eyes and ears. You could also try reading it to someone for a different perspective.
The best way to memorize a speech is to learn the main points. This is where you benefit from writing the speech. Once you understand the subject matter and the goal of the speech, your mind has a framework to follow.
Instead of trying to capture the entire speech word-for-word, you have memorized the main ideas. Enough to talk about it to an audience as if you are having a regular conversation.
There are two main benefits to this. One, it gives a natural feel to your speech. Regurgitating a speech word-for-word makes you seem like a robot. There is no warmth, and it makes your content less engaging.
Two, it makes you immune to a slip-up. When you forget a word or sentence, it has little to zero impact because you know what you are trying to say and how to say it. You have maximum flexibility.
A practical way to memorize each idea is by quizzing yourself over each paragraph. “What is it about?” “What problem is it describing?” “Why does this matter?”
Finally, a speech is only as good as its delivery. Think about the most remarkable speeches you’ve heard or seen. What made them stand out?
One thing that is for sure is it isn’t because they remembered every single word. Not that you would know. But instead how the speaker spoke, entertainingly and informatively.
It is possible to memorize this by rehearsing over and over again.
Since you are more concerned about the meaning than the syntax of your sentence, you start to get a feel of when it’s okay to make a joke, change the timing or intonation.
That is how to memorize a speech, and it all starts with focusing on the content. Now, let’s see some good examples of these tips being put to use in different scenarios.
This example might not align with your definition of “short,” but it gets a whole lot right when it comes to speeches.
First, it starts with a question that piques attention, then immediately establishes what and why they are talking about it. The sentence structure is also conversational, and the author doesn’t have to memorize each word.
The rest of the speech maintains that tone, and the thought flows logically. From explaining what dreaming big is to its downsides and negative impact, all told through anecdotal lenses.
Not only is this speech easier to memorize because it is their story, but it makes it more engaging. More than what a rollout of psychological facts would have been.
Finally, the speaker ties it up in a compelling conclusion that summarizes the key point with a call to action.
This is a much shorter speech than the previous example, but it still follows the same principles. In the introduction, the author uses the scale of time to capture the audience’s attention. With a few sentences, it transports their mind to the past and the future. Engaging!
That thought continues its logical progression in the body. The CEO (presumably) zeroes in on the implications and impact of that journey in time on members of the organization. Relatable!
Finally, they tie up the speech with a nice bow with a call back to the beginning.
Not only does this speech have the perfect length for the occasion, but it is also stirring enough to leave a lasting impression.
If you have ever attended a wedding, you are probably familiar with speeches like this. What makes them so common yet effective is how much it understands its audience.
A wedding reception is a relaxed atmosphere, which means the audience experts jokes and laughter. The author doesn’t waste time and delivers right from the beginning. Humor makes us attractive, and with that, the audience is interested in what the writer has to say.
Another thing that makes this speech good and easy to memorize is a total familiarity with the subject matter. In this case, that’s Josh. Because of that, the author can craft a structural narrative that establishes Josh’s personality and character and its relevance to the current event.
Here is a nice example of a proper introduction if you ever have to give a speech to your peers at school, work, or any other setting. They already know who you are, which means your primary focus is to give them something to listen to.
Next, dive into the what and why it matters. Here, the writer offers both at the end of the first paragraph and in the next. In two paragraphs, the audience knows why she’s talking about her future and why it matters to the speaker and them.
The next logical question is how the speaker plans to achieve that, and they answer in the final paragraph.
What if you had to come up with an introductory speech for an event? Well, you still follow the same beats as other types of speeches. Establish the what and the why.
For What, this college seminar speech covers the relevance of the seminar by mentioning the dignitaries that have supported it. Without explicitly stating that it is an important event, the roster of those in attendance and the organizing team conveys that to the audience.
To answer Why, the principal plainly states the value of the seminar. The audience understands they are part of a long history, and the content is valuable enough for commercial publication.
When you have to introduce yourself, you have a limited time to establish who you are and why you should be listened to.
Thankfully there is not much to learn in this scenario because you are the subject, and no one knows you better than you. Start with your name and your experience like this example to prove your credibility.
Since it is a personal introduction, the body of your content should be something that humanizes you. That way, you go from a name and title to a person, and in this example, a relatable one.
The good thing about this type of speech is it is fun to memorize, and you can rehearse and shape it by giving it to as many people as possible.
In the game of attention that is speech writing and delivery, there are multiple paths to victory. This example deploys the rhetorical question method to command the attention of its audience.
By asking questions audience members have most likely asked themselves, the speaker has positioned himself as someone with answers. After all, if you know about these questions, then they have probably figured it out.
Furthermore, each point builds on the one before it, in the direction of a typical day. Because it follows the logical progression of their regular day, the audience has permission to insert themselves into the narrative, making them more receptive to the advice and suggestion.
What if you are trying to write and memorize a speech for a diverse audience? First, you need to find something that unites you all. In this short excerpt from a speech, the speaker has chosen their identity as residents of Thailand.
It would be difficult for the speaker to memorize every single word in this speech. However, by crafting points around how the central purpose of the speech benefits everyone, they don’t have to.
All that needs memorizing are the broader supporting points. To provide jobs, improve the local economy. Each point is bolstered with verifiable facts, which makes it more convincing.
If you ever find yourself having a debate, the trick to making a convincing argument is to display a complete understanding of the topic interspersed with your opinions and verifiable facts.
This example does two of those things excellently. It starts by recognizing the conflict. Phones are helpful, and they serve an essential role in modern society, but it has its downsides. Then there’s the referenced medical fact that adds credibility to the conflict.
These points are connected by transitional phrases and words like “On the other hand” and “Worryingly” that make it easy for the audience to follow the speaker’s train of thought.
Found the perfect partner and want to propose? Besides the content, writing and delivering your proposal speech is no different from any other kind of speech. It is all about connecting with your audience.
That means, like this example, you need to speak in the first person a lot, i.e., lots of Is. Your key points, as shown here, should focus on how your partner makes you feel and what their presence in your life means to you.
Memorizing the main points of your proposal is especially important in this context because your speech should come from the heart. Or at least feel like it did.
Suppose you’ve received an award or recorded an accomplishment that requires a speech. In that case, the majority of your content should focus on showing appreciation.
First, start by thanking the people giving you the award, then move on to thank everyone else, specifically those who contributed to the achievement.
Feel free to introduce humor into your speech, but it should be appropriate for the event and place.
As always, when you memorize this kind of speech, you should focus more on each section than on the exact words. For instance, you could thank the awarding body first, then move to your peers, then family last.
That way, even after rehearsing multiple times in front of a mirror, it still feels natural and spontaneous.
There are occasions when you want to do more than simply thank you in your acceptance speech. In scenarios like that, find a way to connect your appreciation with your commentary, as seen in this example.
Start by appreciating the organization or people responsible for the award or accomplishment. Then use transitional phrases or a topic sentence to segue into your commentary.
The example above used “…all the effort of my entire team…” to segue into an inspiring comment. It also used an anecdote to illustrate the point further.
Finally, end with a note of thanks to close the circle.
When crafted this way, you only need to memorize the broad strokes of your speech and perhaps the connective phrase if you came up with the perfect line in your draft.
Above is an excerpt of the famous Ich bin ein Berliner speech by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. You can watch and read the whole thing here.
The popular name appears at the very end of the speech, but it would have made zero sense or had little impact if it wasn’t the conclusion of logically progressive thought.
Goodwill speeches should be informative and persuasive, and this example does that brilliantly from the first paragraph. It starts by showing great respect to the city and sticks to the theme by highlighting the shared values and beliefs.
If you ever have to deliver one, focus your memorization efforts on what you have in common with your hosts and build out from there.
Many of us will have to deliver a speech at a funeral someday. When that time comes, it is better to memorize the order of your thoughts than the exact words.
A good order starts with introducing yourself and your relationship with the deceased. Then spend the following paragraphs talking about their life and personality. This includes speaking about their accomplishments, major life events. Each talking point should connect back to the impact on you.
Finally, summarize with a final takeaway from the theme, how you want others to remember the individual, and a thank you to attendees.
Your farewell speech is your last time to leave an impression on your audience. This could be your colleagues, boss, or students. Whoever they are, they will determine the exact tone and style you choose in your speech.
Depending on your experience and emotional attachment to the organization, your speech could be a simple thank you. It could also be exciting stories that highlight your history and journey there.
Whatever you decide, make sure it is personal. The second half of the first paragraph and the second paragraph above is an excellent example of this.
That makes it 15, and depending on the scenario, each one is a useful reference when crafting your speech. Remember, the first step to memorizing a speech is to write one.
It gives you a chance to organize your thoughts, deepen your understanding of the topic, and familiarize yourself with the audience. In turn, you get the confidence to deliver in a way that is both engaging and convincing.
By following these tips and examples, you too will be able to deliver a speech that makes you proud.
Cassie Riley has a passion for all things marketing and social media. She is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, language, music, writing, and unicorns. Cassie is a lifetime learner, and loves to spend time attending classes, webinars, and summits.