Blanking out when delivering a presentation reigns supreme among the many worries that haunt nervous and novice public speakers. Luckily, results from two recent research programs suggest fun and social ways to enhance your remembering and reduce the likelihood of forgetting what you plan to say when presenting in from of others.
Do something intense
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern online pharmacy Medical Center found that memory and recall are increased when you have “attention grabbing experiences” immediately after learning or rehearsing something. They believe the neuro-chemical dopamine released by the brain region called the locus coeruleus (LC) is responsible for this enhancement. They argue this chemical release could potentially explain why people can remember major life events (e.g., first kiss, car accidents, etc.) with much more detail. “Attention grabbing experiences” can be anything that gets you intensely focused. Activities such as playing a video game or a sport should stimulate the LC to release more dopamine. The key seems to be proximity of the learning to the engaging activity. So don’t wait too long before doing something that grabs your attention.
Try this: When practicing your next presentation, consider taking a few quick breaks to do something that gets you actively engaged.
Share your stories
According to researchers at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, people synchronize what they remember when sharing with others in a group. This phenomenon is called “mnemonic convergence.” As you communicate your message with a group and they repeat it back, both parties not only begin to synchronize their messages, but the messages are remembered and recalled better. The mechanism leading to this synchrony is not yet understood, but it is possible that this type of convergence might have conferred some evolutionary advantage. Regardless, leveraging others to help you remember and later recall your material is an easy way to avoid forgetting.
Try this: To better remember your presentations, deliver your message to others and ask them to share it back to you.