Do Not Memorize Your Speech

Rob Biesenbach
Rob Biesenbach, Author of “11 Deadly Presentation Sins”

Even highly experienced speakers must rehearse for a presentation. Do not confuse rehearsal with memorization.  You should not memorize your entire presentation, but rather your opening, key points, and conclusion. Then, rehearse enough so you can “forget it.” This allows you to retain your spontaneity and deliver your presentation with the authenticity that makes a presentation powerfully persuasive. In his new book, 11 Deadly Presentation Sins, my friend, corporate communications expert, Rob Biesenbach provides these excellent guidelines for internalizing, rather than memorizing your presentation:

Internalize, Don’t Memorize

If you try to memorize your presentation word for word, you will come across as stilted. (Unless you’re a good actor!)

And you’re more likely to get tripped up as you grasp for the precise phrasing you’ve scripted.

It’s better instead to “internalize.” Break up your presentation into bite-sized chunks, one idea or point at a time. Get to know each one. Go over it in your head again and again. Don’t worry about the specific words; just get the gist down.

Then start melding these chunks together, one section of the speech at a time. Practice it whenever you have down time—in the car, in the shower, at the gym.

11 Deadly Presentation Sins by Rob BiesenbachYou may never say it quite the same way twice, which is the whole point. When you’ve got the core of it internalized, you can deliver it with confidence while still leaving room to play around the edges—ultimately producing that feeling of an authentic, on-the-spot performance.

One important tip: your speech is going to be a lot easier to internalize if it’s written in your own true voice—the way you speak in everyday conversation. If you’re not comfortable with rhetorical flights of fancy, it’s better to stay grounded.

Rob Biesenbach is an independent corporate communications pro, actor, author and speaker. He is a former VP at Ogilvy PR Worldwide and press secretary to the Ohio Attorney General, and has written hundreds of speeches for CEOs and other executives. He is also a Second City trained actor who has appeared in more than 150 stage, commercial and film productions in the past decade. His first book, Act Like You Mean Business: Essential Communication Lessons from Stage and Screen, was published in 2011 by Brigantine Media. His latest book, 11 Deadly Presentation Sins offers a path to redemption for public speakers, PowerPoint users, and anyone who has to get up and speak in front of an audience. For more information visit:

Thank you Rob!

My articles, “How to Rehearse for Your Talk,” “Is Your Audience Hearing What You Want to Communicate?,” and “Public Speaking – Why Rehearse?” are just a few of the complimentary resources on my website to help you prepare for a presentation.

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