ONE: Practice. Practice to the point you almost don't have to look at your notes. Practice looking up. Practice pushing the advance for your next slide. Practice walking to the front of the room. Practice smiling. Yes, you must practice all the details that you want to happen because once there's someone watching, everything tries to go wrong. Not everything will but nerves get in the way. Just so you know, those who do improvisation, practice. Oh, they can't rehearse every thing an audience might throw at them but they practice the games over and over. It takes a lot of practice to act natural.
TWO: Pretend you're not scared. Or nervous. If it makes you feel any better, we get nervous right before EVERY show. Every show! You'd think we'd get used to it. Yes and no. We get used to being nervous! But we don't let it stop us. Don't let fear stop you either. Make sure you practice a lot, then pretend you're not scared. After you're done and no one is around to see you, then you can sigh, wipe the smile off your face, and empty your stomach if you have to.
Break a leg!
A speech, monologue, oral book report, PowerPoint presentation, the constitution or any other long, one-person performance is one of the most difficult things to memorize. Even shorter speeches can be hard to memorize. But not impossible. Here are nine tips to getting the task done:
1) Depending on the length of the piece, give yourself several WEEKS to get memorized. If you don't have weeks then you'll have to cram. Better memorization comes over a length of time.
2) Work on it EVERYDAY, or almost everyday. It doesn't need to be long work sessions, just a bit everyday.
3) Write or type up and print out, then highlight the speech (monologue, presentation, etc.) in different colors. First, writing it out helps with the brain catch on. Second, highlighting sections of your piece in different colors gives you a visual indication of the words--again, helping your brain to catch on.
4) Record it. Use whatever portable device you have handy and record your presentation. Now play it back as you are in the midst of physical labor that doesn't require you to think much--cooking, yard work, cutting firewood, walking, feeding the birds, driving (but do stop for the red lights).
5) Take it sentence by sentence. Read sentence one. Now read sentence one and two. Now read sentence one, two and three...keep going. You can also take it paragraph by paragraph.
6) Give yourself cues. A PowerPoint already has your bullet points of ideas or pictures to let you know what's next. If you have a speech you can make pictures for, do it. If you're won't have pictures for what you're doing, draw reminder doodles on the sides of your paper to use as you memorize.
7) Come up with gestures to go along with your piece. Always do the same gestures at the same places during your monologue. It's just another cue to get your brain to grasp the words.
8) Get a helper. Let them hold your script and correct you as you flub. At some point, you've got to put your paper down or that will turn into a physical cue for your speech. That's why so many people can recite something they've memorized as long as they can hold the paper in their hand. So put down the paper often, too.
9) Repeat. Any of these steps can be used over again as you get your speech memorized. Use them constantly and you will get it!
Take heart. Memorizing is possible. And you might find other ways to memorize than what's on this list.