Should You Memorize Your Presentation?

You’ve already spent a lot of time developing your presentation. Now you have to work on the presentation skills. The first question you’ll need to address is whether you’ll read your presentation or memorize it. Each has its own set of pros and cons. You should also consider a third option: using detailed notes and/or an outline to deliver your speech. This third option may be the best choice in most cases.

      • Reading Your Presentation
        When you read your presentation, you’ll be sure to include all of the information you want, and in the exact words you’ve chosen. It also helps you to stay within your presentation time limits. But on the down side, reading can make your presentation too mechanical sounding. Another downfall of reading is that you won’t be able to maintain eye contact with your audience. It’s likely you’ll lose their interest. You also won’t be able to gauge whether or not your presentation is having any impact on them. You may also be stuck behind a podium so that you have a place to put your script.
      • Memorizing Your Presentation
        Memorizing your presentation means you’ll be able to move freely in front of your listeners. You’ll also be able to maintain eye contact with them and gauge their interest in your topic. If you’re good at memorizing, you’ll also be able to include all of the information in your first choice of words and phrases. However, if you forget a part of your speech it may be hard to recover. If memorization isn’t easy for you, you may be so focused on the content that your delivery is stilted.
      • Using Notes and an Outline
        If you use your notes and a detailed script for the most important parts of your presentation, you’ll be able to make your presentation without reading or relying on memory. You can maintain eye contact, gauge listener interest, and your delivery will seem much more natural and relaxed. The potential downside to this option is that you may lose your place in your notes. You might also be nervous and say things in different (and possibly ineffective) words.

Most communication experts recommend the third option, but you must choose the option that makes you the most comfortable. Try giving your presentation in all three ways and choose the one that works for you.

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