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19th August 2013

The Power of Logic in Memorizing a Speech

Delivering a Talk

You have a gorgeous speech all written out with perfect wording. It's balanced and sincere and phenomenal and poignant. But how do you memorize a speech so that you can deliver it without sounding like you're reading?

Reading a script makes for a dull speech

Have you ever listened to a small child learning to read? They can read all the words but there is no continuity, no flow, no connection to the words & their meaning. It's evident that they don't yet know how or why the words go together to make complete sentences. It's rather like that with the content of a speech. When we hear a speaker who has over-learned their lines, we phase out because the words have lost their meaning.

Even if your speech is perfectly written, you can still turn it into a dull experience for your audience if you rely on your notes too much as you speak.

But why might we cling to our notes? Because we're afraid of forgetting our words.

Using logic to memorize a speech

Thousands of years ago, Aristotle identified the three critical elements of great communication — ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is your credibility, Pathos your emotional connection and Logos... is our dear friend logic. Here's how logic can play a critical role in helping you remember your lines and speak them with power:

  1. In the process of writing your speech, connect your facts, figures, stories and ideas together in a way that feels logical to you. Make sure that the progression of your speech makes logical sense to you. It sounds obvious, but it's surprising how often we start speaking without being sure of what we want to say. Ask yourself:
    • What is my aim in speaking?
    • What do I hope to change their minds about?
    • Is my aim clear to my audience?
    • Do I have evidence to support my ideas?
    • Do I have a logical journey, or progression of ideas in my talk?
    • Can I connect together each step logically?
  2. Develop a Logical Memory of your speech. Logical Memory is the ability to memorize, not words or figures, but ideas and the logical sequence of those ideas.  As long as you string together your speech with logic, you won't need to memorize anything ever again. Think:
    • If I'm at A, what naturally follows?
    • How strong are the logical connections between my points? How naturally do the connections come to me when I'm under pressure?
    • Are their any places where the logic is weaker?
    • Where could I go wrong?
  3. The places where your logic doesn't hold are the points in your speech that you're more likely to forget under pressure. Pre-empt that moment of panic by reinforcing the logical connections in advance, so that logic can carry you through the sticky moments.

Logic helps your audience remember too

All the authority and empathy in the world won't really help you if people don't understand what you're talking about or how you came to your conclusions.

Logos in public speaking is your mode for appealing to others' sense of reason, hence the term logic. If your argument is logical, it is easier for your audience to go away and repeat your message to someone else who might like to hear it.

While some people can get by on gut feeling alone, as Steve Jobs famously tried to convince us he did, most public speakers will appeal to a greater audience if they provide some kind of analysis through logic to make their points. Facts do not speak for themselves, which is sad, since it would save so much time if they did. Effective speakers know the effort and time spent making explicit the connections they're drawing from the data to the analysis to their conclusion are well worth it.