How To Remember What You’ll Say In A Presentation (Without Having To Script It)

Someone recently asked for my advice on how to best prep for an in-person talk they had coming up.

Their question to me was:

“What tips do you have for remembering a talk? I’ve never been good at speaking without my notes…”

If you’re in a similar position, here’s what I recommended back.

There’s so many things you can do which will help you to remember a talk, but the most important one is to:

Simplify your content / notes

Why is this the *best approach*???

Well you could simply just rehearse the hell out of it. I know people that will rehearse a talk every day for weeks, so they can recite it almost word for word.

However, there’s an important thing to remember in that regard.

If *you* are finding it difficult remembering what you want to say (and you know your content better than anyone else)………

> then your audience is ABSOLUTELY going to find it difficult to remember it once you’ve finished (as it’s the first time they’re hearing it).  

If that makes sense – then we can move on to *how* to you simplify your content and your notes.


1. Distill your content down to key messages / points

2. Figure out the vehicle you’ll use to get those points across

Then voila, all you need as notes are the key points and the vehicle you’re going to use to get those points across! Not the whole talk written out in full to try and remember.

Let me bring this to life for you with a real example.


What a script looks like …..

“Stories are far more memorable than facts and figures are.

Do any of you know exactly HOW much more memorable a story is, than facts and figures!?

>> They’re 7 times as memorable as facts and figures. 7 times as memorable!

I don’t know about you, but if I really want someone to retain what I’ve said, I will try and share a story instead of pure facts and figures!

Why is this so important!?

Well if you want to influence behaviour change after your talk / presentation, people have to be able to remember it. They can’t possibly act on your information if they have forgotten what that was in the first place!”


If you’re focussing on it as a script, it’s 115 words and you have to get them all in the correct order (or the sentences don’t make sense)!

Slightly tricky to remember. Especially if it’s only part of a much longer presentation.

Alternatively, here’s what key points look like ……. 

POINT: Stories are more memorable than facts and figures.

VEHICLE: Statistic (Stories 7 x memorable)


So, you’ve distilled 115 words into 12 words. That’s a 90% reduction, without losing the essence of what you want to get across. In fact I’d even challenge that you’ll get greater clarity as you’re not lost in the weeds of all those words.

You should then find it MUCH easier to remember what you’re going to say as it’s distilled down to key points. Plus you have flexibility with exactly how you can get those points across.

Following that same approach, a whole page worth of scripted notes could look like this at a high level:

POINT: Stories are more memorable than facts and figures.

VEHICLE 1: Statistic (Stories 7 x memorable)

VEHICLE 2: Question (How many talks people remember?)

VEHICLE 3: Story (Leader’s talk with a story in it)

So much easier to remember right!?

Then these notes act like labels on a jar and you can execute what’s represented by each of these labels.


If you’re struggling to remember a talk, your audience will struggle retaining it too.

If they can’t remember what you’ve said, they then won’t be acting on it.

So, as you prep for your talk, prepare simple notes instead of scripting it. Use the simple technique I’ve shared, of a Point + Vehicle (like labels on a jar). 

It will simplify your content so it’s easier to execute and more impactful too.

Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to answer them in the comments below!




Emily Edgeley is a Public Speaking Coach for the Technology industry. Since 2017 she’s run over 280 group coaching sessions, coached more than 250 people privately, and formally supported first time and experienced speakers at 10 Conferences, covering 1000+ people across the globe. 


She’s on a mission to help anyone in the Tech arena learn how to speak with clarity, impact, and confidence, whether that’s at work or at a Conference. So they can share their ideas, build their brand and start to enjoy ‘public speaking’!