We are asked this question a lot. And, the answer is no. But, you should practice your presentation so much that you can say it almost the same way every time. That’s not the same as memorization.
Let us explain.
If you just memorize your presentation, then you’re going to deliver it like you’re reading it. We once worked with an executive who memorized all of his speeches. Sure, he didn’t use notes or a script. And, that’s good. But, he still sounded like a fifth grader reciting a poem from memory, speaking in a flat, nervous voice as he struggled to remember every word. And if, heaven forbid, he forgot something, his speech would falter as he tried to remember his lines. This is what happens when you memorize a speech.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t practice a lot. We tell people to memorize the few key phrases that lead into the messages that you want to make. If you practice enough, will be able to deliver the presentation in a conversational style that connects with your audience.
Let’s say that you’re going to deliver a section of your presentation where you discuss how you will help your listeners lower costs. Your point might be “We’re going to help you lower your costs.” You then give a three-point plan on how you will help lower costs. Then, you tell a story about lowering costs. The pattern is “Make the Point, Give the Plan, Tell the Story.” Once you’re familiar with that pattern, you really only need to remember the point. The rest should flow easily, assuming that you’ve practiced.
And, you won’t have to memorize the entire speech.
Joey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”