Writing as a way to remember a speech

Writing as a way to remember a speech

Imagine stepping onto the stage, the spotlight bearing down on you, your heart pounding in your chest, but the words, those perfect words, they just flow. No hesitation, no stumbles, only fluidity, and precision. How did you achieve this mastery? Could writing your speech word-for-word be the secret weapon you've been missing?

Public speaking can be intimidating, and the fear of forgetting your lines is real. There are countless ways to prepare for a speech, but one method often overlooked is writing out your speech word-for-word. This technique can be a valuable tool in your speechwriting and preparation process, but like a sharp blade, it must be used with care.

Writing out the full speech word-for-word can be a potent method for several reasons. Firstly it does help you remember. By taking the time to craft each sentence, you build a cognitive connection to the material. The very act of writing out the speech can help you remember the flow and the details, creating a roadmap in your mind. Secondly it adds precision to your delivery. When the exact wording is paramount, like the punchlines to jokes or quotations from renowned authors, this method ensures that every word is just where it needs to be. It helps in keeping the integrity and impact of your message.

If you choose to use this technique, you will have to decide whether to write with a pen or on a device such as a computer, tablet, or phone (or maybe a typewriter if you are of a certain age or nostalgic sensibility). Writing by hand has a cognitive advantage1 because it requires deeper processing than devices do. However, digital tools offer ease of editing and organization. Learning styles are personal so we recommend you experiment with different mediums and find which tools resonate with you and your learning style.

While writing out a speech can be highly beneficial for learning, it's essential to recognize the risks of relying only on learning your speech word-for-word:

  • Robotic Delivery: Over-reliance on the exact words can lead to a rigid, lifeless delivery. It’s the emotion and spontaneity that often connect with an audience.
  • Potential for Complete Derailment: If you lose your place, recovering can be more difficult, as deviation from the exact script can be mentally jarring.

At our speechwriting business, we believe in a holistic approach. Writing a speech word-for-word should not be the sole method you employ. See our article on reprocessing as we call it, for more information on this topic. Like a skilled artist, using a blend of tools can create a masterpiece.

Writing out your speech word-for-word can be a powerful tool, allowing for precision and aiding memory. It can be particularly useful when specific wording is essential, and the choice of writing medium can be tailored to your preferences. However, this method should be used in conjunction with other techniques to create a dynamic, engaging delivery. It's not a magic potion but used wisely, it might just be the key to unlocking the next level of your public speaking prowess. Remember, it's not just about the words but how you wield them.

This blog is part of a series on speech memorization techniques. To see the other blogs in the series (and a lot of cute foxes) click here 


1Mueller, P. A. & Oppenheimer, D. M. The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking, Psychological Science Vol. 25(6) 1159 –1168 (2014) 

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