When it comes to public speaking, people who stutter have a really hard time. Add stress connected with public speaking, and you may look at a disaster. But does it really have to be so? Isn’t there a way to prevent changes in voice pitch, stuttering, and general nervousness while we speak in public. Fortunately, there is a way. Memorization. Yes, just that. Not having the text written on a few sheets of paper, but memorizing it will help you speak much more fluently and naturally even if you normally stutter in such situations.
Memorization, learning by heart, what could be simpler? But is it really so simple? How much time do you need to memorize a poem? Aren’t you afraid of forgetting a word or a line, even if you have rehearsed it a thousand times? And what about a longer text? Do you always deliver your speeches reading them? Doesn’t your voice change then? Isn’t it getting higher? Very often this happens. Even though the text is written and in front of our eyes, we tend to get nervous, and what was to be a brave and brilliant presentation turns out to be a disaster. Still, it does not have to be that way.
Proper memorization will help you deliver your speech in a much more interesting way than you could expect. And my favorite exercise is copied from Sir Winston Churchill (at least his biographers say he used it). Not only do you memorize the text from start to finish, but also backwards. Start with reading the text out loud paragraph by paragraph first, breathing in a proper way. Slow down if you feel you get short of breath, take an extra breath. Take a pencil, mark your breaths in the text. Repeat for all paragraphs. Now read the text once more, breathing as you have marked. Do not rush, slow down rather. Next read the text from breath to breath and repeat, keeping the same pace, and taking breaths in the same places.
After you have practiced reading, speaking and breathing, start learning the text by heart. Use whatever your favorite method is, but remember that the more senses are engaged in the learning process, the more effective the learning. You can turn some soft music on. You can walk while memorizing the text, you can gesticulate. Whatever you do will first of all help you remember the text, and secondly will turn your attention away from the way you speak, and you’ll speak more fluently.
When you finish rehearsing the text, and can repeat the text with some degree of confidence, start learning it backwards. backwards mean I And. Makes no sense at first, but then you’ll become even more familiar with the text.
If you have someone to help you with the rehearsal, you can do one more exercise with the text you have to memorize. First, number the paragraphs. Next take a piece of paper and write down the numbers of paragraphs, and the first word of each paragraph next to the number. Now, give the text to your partner and ask them to call paragraph numbers while you try to repeat the whole paragraph looking only at the first word. Remember to keep the slow speaking and breathing pace.
So there are in fact two things you must memorize: the text itself, and the speaking-breathing sequence. When you master the two, you can confidently go out and deliver the speech, looking only at the list with paragraph numbers and their first words.