How to Memorize a Presentation: 12 Ways Only Pros Use

How to Memorize a Presentation: 12 Ways Only Pros Use
Mahnoor Sheikh

Written by:
Mahnoor Sheikh

Aug 01, 2021

Memorizing a presentation can sound like a daunting task, but if you do it right, it can help you deliver a powerful and effective talk.

For most people, public speaking doesn’t come easy. Research suggests that as many as 75% of adults have a fear of public speaking.

To overcome this fear and anxiety, presenters often resort to stuffing their PowerPoint slides with text and bullet points. But being dependent on your slides can prevent you from making sufficient eye contact, interacting with the audience, and speaking confidently and fluently.

This is why professional presenters utilize memory techniques and exercises to remember presentation points and speak without relying on their slides.

In this article, we’ll show you 12 ways to memorize a presentation that only pros use.

Create a professional presentation using Visme's presentation maker. Use hundreds of pre-made templates, mix-and-match slides and customize everything with a few clicks.


12 Ways to Memorize Your Next Presentation

Way #1: Build a Memory Palace

Way #2: Create a Mind Map

Way #3: Read Out Loud

Way #4: Practice With a Friend

Way #5: Break Up the Information

Way #6: Record Yourself

Way #7: Make Written Notes

Way #8: Take a Nap

Way #9: Use the 20-20-20 Rule

Way #10: Avoid Multitasking

Way #11: Exercise Before Memorizing

Way #12: Practice During the Afternoon


Way #1: Build a Memory Palace

Did you ever wonder how the Greeks and Romans managed to give long, elaborate speeches full of decorative language, facts and data?

They used an ancient memory technique called the Method of Loci, also known as the memory palace method. This technique involves associating words and ideas with spaces.

Our brains are hardwired to remember spatial information more effectively. When you associate ideas with specific locations, they become easier to memorize.

One reason for this could be that forming spatial relationships gives the information context, which helps us make sense of it based on our existing knowledge and beliefs.

Let’s look at an example to help you understand better.

Joe works for a smartphone company, and he wants to memorize a presentation about the latest smartphone his company has launched.

To remember the main points of the presentation, Joe builds a memory palace of his house, where each room is associated with a section of the presentation.

Create your own infographic in Visme!Sign up. It's free.
  • Bedroom: Associated with “Battery” because he recharges his energy when he sleeps.
  • Work Area: Associated with “Camera” because his remote work involves video conferencing.
  • Bathroom: Associated with “Storage” because he uses it to relieve the contents stored in his bladder.
  • Kitchen: Associated with “Speed” because this is the back-end where things are “cooking” up.
  • Living Room: Associated with “Display” because this is where his family watches TV.

A memory palace doesn’t need to be a real place. It can be a series of fictional spaces linked together in your mind where you go to retrieve stored information.

In BBC’s Sherlock, the famous detective uses the memory palace technique to remember crucial information needed to solve cases.

Watch the snippet from the show below where Sherlock’s friend and assistant, John Watson, explains how this works.


How to build your own memory palace.

To build your own memory palace for a presentation, follow the five simple steps below:

  • Step 1: Think of a location. This could be a real place, like your home, or a fictional location, such as an exotic palace.
  • Step 2: Set a route to walk through in your mind. Establish the beginning, middle and the end of the route you’ll take as you mentally walk through the location. For example, which rooms will you visit and in which order?
  • Step 3: Identify the features of each space. Visualize the items, furniture, colors and other features of each room or space.
  • Step 4: Make associations between the features and your presentation. Relate specific parts of your presentation with the items and features identified in the previous step to build visual associations.
  • Step 5: Practice walking through the route several times. This will help you familiarize yourself with your memory palace and enable you to retrieve memorized information faster during your actual presentation.


Way #2: Create a Mind Map

Creating a mind map is a great way for visual learners to memorize a presentation.

A mind map helps you lay out the main points of your presentation in the form of a diagram rather than a list of words.

You can use colors, images, shapes, lines, arrows and other elements to make your diagram look more interesting and easier to scan through.

Mind Map Templates

Mind maps help you better understand the connections and transitions between points, as our brains are able to form associations between ideas and a mind map’s visual elements.

Mind mapping also imprints the shape of the mind map in your brain — shapes are much easier to remember than traditional notes or a long list of words.

Mind maps are especially useful for memorizing boring or dry information by transforming it into colorful shapes and drawings.


Way #3: Speak Out Loud

Studies show that reading information out loud can help you remember it better.

This happens because the reader is engaging in two personal acts; using their motor speech skills and self-referential information (“I” said it.)

When information gets personal, it automatically becomes easier to remember.

Rehearsing out loud is also a great way to make sense of your presentation content.

Oftentimes, things may seem logical and clear in our minds, but when we say them out loud, the concepts are all over the place.

Speaking out loud can help put all the pieces in places and aid the logical reasoning behind going from one point to the next. It can also help you think of better transition words and phrases along the way.


Way #4: Practice With a Friend

Practicing in front of trusted friends or colleagues can be extremely beneficial for two reasons.

Not only can it help you memorize the content more effectively, it can also get you honest, insightful feedback to improve your presentation.

Plus, when you’re rehearsing in front of an actual audience, you’ll be more conscious of what you’re saying, which can be a memory booster in itself.

You should also consider sharing your presentation slides with your friend.

Here’s why this can be helpful:

  • They can give you suggestions for improving the content and design of your presentation.
  • They can raise questions or concerns you may not have thought through, which can help prepare you for the Q&As during the actual presentation.
  • Presenting in front of a live audience will boost your confidence.

TED speaker Nancy Duarte also endorses practicing your presentation with a friend, especially if they’re solid presenters and can give you helpful feedback.

In her article, she says:

"When I did my TEDx Talk, I repeated this step four times, twice with my ExComm Manager and twice with my company President. After they added their insights, I was ready to have the slides designed."

Ready to create your own presentation in minutes?

  • Add your own text, images and more
  • Customize colors, fonts and everything else
  • Choose from hundreds of slide designs and templates
  • Add interactive buttons and animations

Sign up. It's free.


Way #5: Break Up the Information

Breaking up information can help you organize it better. Start by creating a rough outline of your presentation.

You don’t need to write everything down. Focus on jotting down the headings of the different sections, and short bullets of what you’re going to talk about under each section.

Next, prioritize the points by importance.

This will help you focus on memorizing the important information first. You’ll also be able to allocate the right amount of time to each point.

Another effective way to break up information is chunking. Chunking is the process of dividing information into smaller parts, or groups, to make it easier to memorize and recall.

For example, you can break your presentation down into sections like introduction, features, challenges and conclusion.

Here’s a visual to help you better understand what chunking is.

Create your own infographic in Visme!Sign up. It's free.

Notice how the string of letters have been broken down in two steps.

The first step organizes the letters into 6 three-letter groups. The second step further organizes the groups by theme, such as Animals, Companies and Alphabet.

Memorizing six words that have meaning is much easier than memorizing 18 random letters. And that’s exactly how chunking works.


Way #6: Record Yourself

According to the National Association for Music Education, listening to a performance not only improves future practice sessions, but also boosts overnight retention.

You can apply the same principle when trying to memorize a presentation.

Once you’ve finalized your presentation, make an audio and/or video recording of yourself.

Listen to the audio while you take the bus to work or while you're in the gym, and even before sleeping — the more you listen to the presentation, the faster you’ll memorize it.

You should also make a video of yourself presenting. Not only can this be used for memorization, but can also help you improve the your body language during the presentation.

create a stunning presentation with visme


Way #7: Make Written Notes

Studies show that writing down information by hand can help you learn concepts and remember them more effectively.

When you’re preparing for your presentation, jot down the main points on a notepad or a piece of paper. Underline important headings and make bulleted lists to organize your notes.

You can also sketch visuals like diagrams or pictures where possible to aid your memory.

For example, if you’re talking about the sales process of your company, you can create a rough flowchart diagram with circles and arrows.

Drawing a process by hand can help you better remember the details.

Practice sketching the same diagram several times to familiarize yourself with the concept and make sure you’re not leaving out anything important.


Way #8: Take a Nap

This might seem counterintuitive or maybe even like a waste of time when you’re under pressure, but napping has been proven to improve your memory function.

That’s right — a study recently conducted in China found that taking naps can lead to better cognitive function and memory skills.

They took two groups of people; those who took power naps during the day and those who did not. After performing cognitive tests on the two groups, they found that the napping group showed much better results when it came to cognitive function and memorization.

Not only should you consider adding a power nap to your routine while studying to memorize your presentation, but you also need to consider how much sleep you’re getting in the time leading up to your presentation.

According to Dr. Mayank Shukla, a well-rested brain is more effective at recalling information than a sleep-deprived brain. “Not only will you be able to recall information more easily due to sleeping and being well-rested, but it is consolidation, the middle phase of the memory process, that occurs during sleep.” says Dr. Mayank.

Even though you might think you need to just push through and memorize despite being exhausted, consider taking a nap and viewing it as a memorization technique for your next presentation.


Way #9: Use the 20-20-20 Rule

Last but not least, a proven way to memorize your presentation is to use the 20-20-20 rule of rehearsal.

According to memory experts, reviewing your presentation material for 20 minutes, and then repeating it twice for 20 minutes each can help you remember the content better.

Create your own infographic in Visme!Sign up. It's free.

The rule also says that if the material is not repeated within 30 minutes, it’s not encoded into the long-term memory.

This method is a good way to stop yourself from spending too much time on the individual bits and pieces of your presentation.

Instead, you’ll be able to focus on the important parts to memorize as you’re restricted by the 20-minute time limit.


Way #10: Avoid Multitasking

You might think that multitasking lets you be more productive than if you were to focus on a single task at a time.

But did you know that when it comes to studying, the opposite can be true?

According to a study conducted by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, you actually impair memorization by multitasking.

The study reveals that when you become distracted with other “important” tasks during a time when your brain is learning something new or practicing something unfamiliar, you undermine your efficiency significantly.

This is largely due to the fact that your brain needs time to shift between different tasks. So, when you check a notification on your phone and then go back to studying, it takes your brain some time to get into gear and start memorizing again.

Here's an interesting video from BBC that explains how multitasking can make you inefficient.


In order to see the best results for memorization, set aside a designated time in a quiet, relaxing place and focus solely on studying with no interruptions.


Way #11: Exercise Before Memorizing

Not only is exercise a great way to improve your physical health, but it’s incredibly game-changing for your mental health and memorization capabilities.

According to this study conducted by Pub Med, there are direct and immediate benefits from exercise that affect cognition for both younger and older adults.

By simply exercising before sitting down to memorize your presentation, you will experience enhanced cognitive processing.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to go to the gym and do an intense cardio workout to get your creative juices flowing. You can simply go for a walk, practice mindful yoga or do anything that gets your heart pumping.

Exercise not only enhances memory function and cognitive processing, but it also rids your mind of stress by releasing endorphins immediately after some physical activity.

So, if you’re experiencing brain fog and an inability to memorize efficiently, try going on a brisk jog with your furry friend, and then come back inside for a second round of memorization.


Way #12: Practice During the Afternoon

Many of you may be early risers and like to get things done in the morning so you can have the afternoon free. On the flip side, you might be a night owl who likes to pull all-nighters to get their work done.

But according to a study conducted by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, studying early in the morning or late at night can actually be counterintuitive.

In fact, the research shows that the best time of the day to study and memorize is in the afternoon. Surprising, right?

This study examined the “time-of-day” effect and performance of various people doing different memory tasks, and found that those who studied in the afternoon had much higher recollection and effective long-term memorization than those who studied in the morning or evening.

And according to PSB Academy, studying in the afternoon is best for integrating new information into something you already know.

This is great news because once you know the basic structure of your presentation, you can then begin to add minute details into your memorization process and have your presentation memorized by the evening.

So, if you can fester up the energy and discipline to focus during what many might consider the “hump” part of the day, you might actually get some of your best memorizing done.


Memorize and Deliver a Powerful Presentation

Memorizing your presentation is one of the best ways to appear confident on stage and deliver a powerful speech or presentation without reading off the slides.

Learn more about how to deliver a powerful business presentation, or check out Visme's presentation software to create a unique, engaging presentation that looks extremely professional.

Remember, when you design a presentation that looks as good as the content inside, you’ll be more confident when presenting in front of a large audience.

Create Stunning Content!

Design visual brand experiences for your business whether you are a seasoned designer or a total novice.

Try Visme for free

    We’re stingy and don’t share emails with anyone.

    About the Author

    Mahnoor Sheikh is the content marketing manager at Visme. She has years of experience in content strategy and execution, SEO copywriting and graphic design. She is also the founder of MASH Content and is passionate about tea, kittens and traveling with her husband. Get in touch with her on LinkedIn.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Now Available: Become a Certified Presentation Expert for FreeTake the Course