Memorizing Speeches and Interview Responses Can Cause Detachment

Memorizing Speeches and Interview Responses Can Cause Detachment

Verbatim memorization of a speech or responses to interview questions can detach you from your content and from the very people you’re trying to reach; the audience, the interviewer, investors.

Memorization places your focus on remembering exact words and phrases, instead of where it should be, which is on communicating your ideas or information with emotion and effectiveness.

For the vast majority of people, attempting to deliver word-for-word speeches, pitches or interview responses backfires. Here are a few reasons I don’t recommend verbatim memorization:

1. Memorizing content word-for-word can detach you from the meaning of the words. Saying something the exact same way over and over can dull the emotions attached to your content to a point where it almost becomes meaningless. If you rehearse your presentation or interview responses repeatedly with the same wording, you may even develop “semantic satiation,” in which certain words temporarily stop having meaning to you.

2. Delivering content that you have memorized can detach you from the audience or interviewer because when you focus on retrieving exact words for a long stretch of time, you are not as fully present in the moment. This would emotionally detach you from the very people you’re trying to reach with your message.

3. With a memorized verbatim speech or response, if you become distracted and forget one word or phrase, you can feel completely lost and throw your entire presentation or interview off course.

4. The pressure of knowing you must remember a verbatim speech can heighten nervousness or anxiety you might feel before a presentation or interview. Why put that extra pressure on yourself?

The temptation to memorize presentations, speeches or responses to interview questions lies in the generally erroneous belief that this will offer some guarantee of success. Adding to this, sometimes people become very attached to specific phrases that they believe sound great. As any good editor will tell you, it’s dangerous to fall in love with your words: they might get eliminated.

Instead of memorizing your presentation, speech or media interview responses, do this:

1. Map out the journey you want to take people on with your presentation or interview responses.

2. Master your content. It’s best to know and thoroughly comprehend everything you’re talking about. For CEOs and other company spokespeople who may be asked about a wide array of topics that may or may not fall within their areas of expertise, this can be challenging. For them, some of the content to master would include explanations of who can address the question and why this is so.

3. Practice verbalizing your content multiple different ways and many times. Knowing a lot about a subject is quite different than speaking about it confidently, concisely and compellingly.

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech,” Mark Twain said.

4. Get feedback. It’s difficult to assess your own effectiveness in conveying your message, your body language and overall communication style. Feedback from a trusted source can help.

If you want to feel fully prepared and confident for interviews, presentations or pitches my advice is to get professional training. The preparation techniques, feedback, skill development and outside perspective that a good trainer provides can save you years of trying to figure things out on your own and enable you to be the best communicator you can be. You might be thinking that of course I would advise this, given that I’m a media trainer and presentation trainer, but I wouldn’t have become a trainer if I hadn’t seen the great need for thorough and thoughtful training in my many years as a PR counselor and publicist.

If you or someone in your organization seems pulled toward memorizing a presentation, remember this: People want to feel that you’re communicating with them from your heart and your head and that the ideas or information you are conveying are so much a part of you that you don’t need to memorize a speech or response to speak about them. Unless you’re an amazing actor (on par with Academy Award winners), you probably can’t make your memorized words appear to be thoughts that are emerging naturally. If you seem unnatural, you will be perceived as lacking in authenticity or confidence.

Confidence comes from mastery, and mastery comes from proper preparation and practice.

Lisa Elia, Media Trainer, Presentation Trainer, and Communication Expert, and Founder of Expert Media TrainingThis post was written by Lisa Elia, a media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert, and speaker. She trains clients around the world for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, panels, investor presentations, and promotional videos. With more than 25 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E!, and many others. Clients include entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between as well as athletes, celebrities, and other public figures.

How to Be a Great Interviewer or Moderator

How to Be a Great Interviewer or Moderator

At some point, you may find yourself in the position of interviewing people or moderating panels. If you’re not prepared for this, you can feel out of your depths.

Recently, when I moderated a panel at “Expressions of Peace,” a wonderful event that our client PeaceNow held, several people asked me how I prepared. Admittedly, I’ve been interviewing people since I was in journalism classes when I was 19 years old, and I have continued to refine my process over the years. Here are some tips on how to be a great interviewer or moderator.

How to Be a Great Interviewer or Moderator

1. If you want to learn how to be a great interviewer, watch great interviewers, like Lester Holt, Oprah Winfrey, and Anderson Cooper. Pay attention to their timing and rhythm, and note how much research they have done to prepare prior to an interview. Study people who do both well. 

2. Do your research. Take the time to research the topics to be discussed and the people you will be interviewing/moderating. Read up on current events so you can tie them into the discussion when appropriate. When you have done your research, you will be better able to quickly formulate questions and effectively lead the interview or panel discussion.

3. Practice encapsulating others’ rambling speeches. A good interviewer or moderator can sum up what was said on the spot. While some people are naturally more adept at this than others, this skill can be improved with practice.

4. Write out some questions you plan to ask during the interview or panel discussion. It’s good to have more questions than you will need to fill the time, and then to put them in order of priority, so you ask the juiciest, most interesting questions at the beginning, middle, and end of the interview or discussion. You want to lead people on a journey and keep them engaged.

5. Develop a preparation ritual to relax and center yourself before you begin your interview or panel discussion. No amount of research or knowledge will help you if you get so nervous that your body goes into a “fight-or-flight” response and you forget what you’re saying. Having a ritual to help you control your breathing, relax your body and focus your thoughts will help you to center yourself so you can be more fully present and enjoy the moment.

6. Control the audience. If you open the floor to an audience Q&A, know that there will be some people who want to take the opportunity to promote their agendas, rather than contribute to a discussion. Be sure to bring the conversation back to the topic that the panel is discussing. You may have to politely cut someone off, but it can be done with grace. Other articles that include tips that may interest anyone who wants to know how to be a great interviewer or moderator are provided here:

6 Tips for Effective Presentations

https://expertmediatraining.com/how-to-prepare-for-presentations/

Media Training Resources (communication studies and useful links)

https://expertmediatraining.com/media-training-resources/

Body Language in Interviews and Meetings

https://expertmediatraining.com/body-language-in-interviews-and-meetings/

How to Ace Every Presentation

https://expertmediatraining.com/ace-every-presentation/

Individual or group training inquiries should be directed to [email protected]  or 310-479-0217.

Lisa Elia, Media Trainer, Presentation Trainer, and Communication Expert, and Founder of Expert Media TrainingThis post was written by Lisa Elia, a media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert, and speaker. She trains clients around the world for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, panels, investor presentations, and promotional videos. With more than 25 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E!, and many others. Clients include entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between as well as athletes, celebrities, and other public figures.

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