Many presentation veterans and TEDxTalkers will tell you that you should dedicate one hour of preparation for every minute of the presentation. That seems like a lot, right? If your presentation is 15 minutes long, that’s 15 hours of preparation. Who has time for that? However, when you actually sit down and consider the brainstorming and story mining, the physical deck design, and practicing the presentation— 15 hours might not seem so astronomical. After all, you don’t want to spend hours creating a deck just to forget everything you’re supposed to say when you step up to the podium.
It might not seem important, but how your presentation flows is critical to its overall success. In fact, 90% of people believe that a strong narrative and story in a presentation is critical for engagement. Similarly, 35% of millennials say they will only engage with content they feel has a great story or theme. It just goes to show that presentations are two-fold: the deck, and the delivery. Your presentation could have a great story, but if your flow and delivery misses the mark it’s all for naught. It’s no wonder so many people stress about public speaking, they don’t want to get choked up in front of an audience and embarrass themselves. Practice and memorization are just as important as the physical presentation deck, and vice versa.
If you’re a last-minute warrior (no judgement), and are wondering how to memorize a presentation in one night, we’ve got you covered. Consider these tips to help you memorize your next presentation for a better flow and overall experience.
Structure your story in an obvious way
If you structure your story in an obvious way— with a beginning, middle, and end— it will help keep you on track. Become familiar with the character (your product, service, or idea), the villain (the problem you’re solving for), and the narrative. Better yet, think of it as a novel you’ve read again and again, or a funny story you’re sharing with your friends. When you know the flow, positioning, and progression of your story, it will be easier to pick up where you left off if you get lost or distracted mid-thought.
Beautiful.ai can help you structure your story more effectively with our Smart Slide templates. The guardrails put in place by our design AI force you to format your story more efficiently, but it also allows you to structure it in new, creative ways you might not have thought of otherwise.
Keep it short and sweet
It’s not rocket science: the shorter your presentation, the easier it is to remember. (The same goes for your audience, too). In order to memorize your presentation, and make sure you’re not leaving out any key points, keep your deck to a minimum. We always recommend Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule, which says no PowerPoint presentation should be more than ten slides, longer than 20 minutes, and use fonts smaller than 30 point size. If you stick to this method, you’ll have less to memorize and more to gain.
Practice, practice, practice
Obviously, practice makes perfect. The more you practice and rehearse the narrative, in your head or in front of your mirror, the more prepared you will be on game day. Here are some easy ways to practice, and better memorize your presentation.
The 20-20-20 rule
The 20-20-20 rule, which was created by memory experts, encourages you to go over the material (in this case, your presentation) for 20 minutes, and then repeat that twice for another 20 minutes each. According to research, if the information is not repeated or revisited within 30 minutes, it’s not encoded into the long-term memory side of the brain, and therefore would be harder to remember on presentation day.
When you sit down to practice, you should do at least one dry run in front of the mirror or a friend. And you should record yourself doing it. When you record yourself presenting, you can watch it back to 1) review and memorize the information, and 2) tweak your narrative where necessary. It’s also a great way to manage and tweak your facial expressions and body language.
There’s just something about hand-written notes that really engrains the information in your brain. No, really. It’s scientifically proven that physically writing down information by hand helps you retain it more effectively. So, take notes. Take notes as you’re story mining, designing your deck, and practicing your speech and refer back to them before your presentation.
Have a cheat sheet handy
Okay, normally we wouldn’t encourage note cards. Why? Simply because people tend to read directly from the note cards instead of speaking to their audience. But in our new norm of remote work— and virtual conferences, meetings, events, etc.— a cheat sheet can be your friend.
Check out this hot tip. Make a cheat sheet of the absolute highest level key points you need to touch on and tape the note card to the top of your computer near the camera. Even if you need to read from the card (in the case of a mental lapse), it will look like you’re staring into the camera and making eye contact with your virtual audience. You’re welcome.