The #1 Thing to Avoid When Presenting

Why writing out your speech could damage the quality of your presentations and what to do about it.

Speaker Nation
6 min readFeb 18, 2021

In this article, you will discover: why writing out your speech is flat-out counterproductive, and the best alternative to memorizing your talk in a way that helps you rock the stage.

Remember being in school, having to write out your presentation, and then having to memorize and rehearse it word for word? Remember how nerve-racking that was? How forced and unnatural it felt?

Well, we have great news…

You never have to do that again.

Writing out your talk and memorizing it is one of the worst things you can do for your presentation.

Whether you’re presenting at the office, from a stage, or at a social gathering, this type of preparation is just flat-out counterproductive.

Apart from creating unnecessary nerves and anxiety around the entire experience, forcing yourself to remember each and every word, syllable, and inflection from your speech can (and most likely will) cause you to lose your flow, your connection with the audience, and your point.

Here are some of the ways you’ll find memorizing your speech can actually harm you as a speaker:

1. Are. You. A. Robot. Or Do You Just Sound Like One?

Have you ever been listening to a presenter on stage and found it hard to connect? Yes, they might be extremely well polished, but you still just can’t create that connection with them. They seem too far removed from the topic and their words. This is because by sharing exactly what was written on their paper rather than speaking naturally, the speaker is coming off more robot than human.

If you pay attention to the next conversation you have, it won’t take you long to recognize we don’t speak the same way we write. We speak with run-on sentences, improper grammar, long-winded stories, and broken structure (as much as we might like to think we don’t).

When you’re writing out your talk and speaking word for word what comes off of a paper, your delivery comes off pre-planned and, in turn, it becomes a challenge to get your point across. And trust us, your audience will notice.

2. Spare Yourself A Nervous Breakdown

Setting yourself up to remember each and every word on a page is basically one step away from setting yourself up for a nervous breakdown. By forcing yourself to remember each and every word you wrote down, you trigger a linear type of memory.

Setting yourself up to remember each and every word on a page is basically one step away from setting yourself up for a nervous breakdown.

You only remember one word because you remember the word before, meaning you remember the sequence, not the story. Similar to when we sing the alphabet! What comes after the letter F? Did you sing the song to get there? You get our point…

By making yourself remember the sequence of words, you increase your chance of losing the thread of your talk and standing speechless in front of your audience.

3. Note To Self: Act Normal

Sure, maybe you can memorize the script, but once you have… You now stumble upon a completely new layer of challenges. Because every word is pre-planned, you now have to think about how a regular person would deliver this scripted talk — how you’d deliver it in an off-the-cuff conversation, which inflections you’d use, what forced laughs you’ll slip in where.

This becomes incredibly stressful and takes the fun out of speaking. If you continue to stress yourself out over things that really aren’t worth it, you’ll wonder why you started speaking at all.

4. Don’t Waste Your Time

If it took 2 days to memorize a history presentation back in grade 6, think of how long it might take to memorize a 3-hour keynote presentation. Memorizing your talk becomes a huge time-intensive task that you’ll only start to resent. Before you know it, this is just another roadblock preventing you from advancing in your speaking career.

As you can see, there really are no benefits to memorizing your talk word for word. Yes, you might feel pulled towards sitting down and jamming every single word into your memory bank just for the sake of comfort and to put your anxiety at ease, but you’re actually doing a disservice to yourself.

So save yourself the hassle, and next time try some of these much more fun, easy and effective ways to overcome your memorizing roadblocks:

  • Some of the best speeches out there are made up of stories. Painful, incredible, joyful, real human stories. Whatever the story may be, people will connect to it and people will be drawn to it. So rather than remembering your speech, remember your stories. Use a story journal to jot down an emotional experience, recording how it made you feel and what was around you. Get specific — this way you’ll know every detail and be able to pull from any story to fit any talk and any audience. How easy would that be when it comes time to prepare your speech?

Rather than remembering your speech, remember your stories.

  • Write out a diagram so you know to touch on certain points, how much time you can spend on each story, and which order will be the most effective. This will ensure your talk comes from your heart, not your brain. Feeling all the more organized in your talk can take away those butterflies and give you the confidence you might be needing to really nail the talk. It’s your story — you’re the best person for the job of telling it.

As a human being, you’ve collected a multitude of different stories throughout your life. If you’ve ever felt an emotion, learned a lesson, or had an experience, you have a story.

Now, as a speaker, it’s your job to take these stories and build them into something that will inspire, captivate and create emotion for every audience you step in front of.

Remember, your stories are meant to be told.

By following the steps we shared above, you’ll find the next time you step on stage your entire stage presence will have changed from the times you’ve spoken from memory. You’ll give off more confidence, radiate a more contagious energy and look like you’ve been doing this for years.

So resist the urge to write your story out word for word, and you’ll find yourself creating connections you never thought possible (and kicking those pesky nerves to the curb).

If you’re looking to discover more ways to level-up your speaking game, download The Stage Effect and get familiar with implementing every method of the most powerful form of influence available today.



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