Public speaking isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a real challenge to address an audience, all the while assessing their level of engagement and edification. There are many distractions to wade through and sometimes work with. This could be noisy children, people moving, or the sound system ringing at deafening decibels.
You must have a strategy for organizing your thoughts in your mind. Some invisible catalog that you can thumb through at a panic pace while you present your material.
There are some speakers that work with a full manuscript, micro-manuscript, full outline, sticky notes, or no notes at all. In the mind of each of these types of speakers is a system whereby they draw material from their memory.
Techniques include pictures on power point, outlines, mind mapping, and the like. Perhaps most popular amongst modern-day preachers is the mind-mapping method.
Find your style. The only way to find your groove is by trial and error.
Trial and Error
Early in my speaking adventures, my father loaned me the book, How to Preach without Notes. It’s an older book that proved to be priceless in helping me find my mojo.
Without delving too deep, basically the book teaches mind saturation. Learn your text inside and out. Spend quality time connecting with your text, and quantity time constructing your outline. Have an outline that you write down and memorize. Then when you speak you will be free to share the information and flow with the Spirit: unencumbered by notes. Of course this doesn’t always play out in public like it does on paper.
I tried mind mapping along with extensive outlines, complete with notes in the margins that I couldn’t read. I’ve never been able to flow well with a manuscript. I lose my place easily and find that I spend all my time looking down and not enough time gauging my audiences’ reception.
So I took that and rewound it back to mind saturation and the memorization of my outline. This system has morphed over the years into a skeleton hybrid of my earlier notes.
I am able to quickly memorize an outline and see the numbering system in my head while I speak. I don’t see the points behind the number. I see the number and then the points.
My plan is to write the outline in my Moleskine and then type it out (I’ve been lazy lately about typing), and finally rewrite a condensed outline on a 3×5 card.
I stare at that card for awhile. I then walk off and try to recite it verbatim. I repeat this until I have it memorized.
Then I memorize it upside down. I start at the bottom and work to the top. After doing these things, I have a pretty good mental grasp of what I’m going to say.
I have to use numbers. If I lay out my points in paragraph style without a numbered outline – I go blank.
Each number equals a point.
Each point doesn’t equal a number. The number comes first in my mind and the point second.
Here is an example
DAVID KING FROM JUDAH.
1. Genesis 49:10 the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
2. Through this prophetic utterance the bible stated that Judah would have the scepter and throne. But Saul of the tribe of Benjamin is the first king. Why? Was this all wrong?
3. The end of the love story of Ruth is very odd indeed.
4. Ruth 4:18 now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
5. Ruth 4:19 and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
6. Ruth 4:20 and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon.
7. Ruth 4:21 and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed.
8. Ruth 4:22 and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
9. The Genealogy begins with a bastard and ends with a King.
10. Note that there are ten names mentioned.
11. Deuteronomy 23:2 a bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.
12. The expression, ‘a bastard shall not enter the congregation’ had reference to a place in the royal line of Israel. It did not imply a social outcast.
13. Ancient rabbis interpreted it to mean that no descendant of a bastard could sit upon the throne of Israel until the tenth generation.
14. It was therefore impossible for any of the descendants of Pharez to sit on Israel’s throne for ten generations, and when Israel under Samuel demanded a king, God couldn’t give them a legitimate king from the royal tribe of Judah because of Deut 23:2.
15. Saul was Israel’s choice not Gods. God couldn’t bring the king from Judah because the 10th generation wasn’t ready yet.
16. But when David was born and ready. The shall, of Genesis 49:10 came to pass.
17. You are not passed over – it could be the timing isn’t right yet.
I admire the manuscript speakers, because they have every thought typed out for future reference.
It’s important to have a solid outline to work with. This tangible outline is for today and tomorrow. Re-preaching older messages is tough when you look back at chicken scratch and try to comprehend what you preached from the scribble.
Numbered outlines and mind saturation is what works for me.
Find what works for you and work it.
Question: What memory technique works best for you?