Memorizing words of a speech, presentation, or routine is the most common type of rehearsal, and exactly what creates recurring performing problems. I’ve identified 10 problems which are caused by memorizing the words and their consequences.
When rehearsal is done by repeating the words over and over, they get encoded in the internal self talk voice. Then in order to recall the words, the speakers must go inside their heads and listen to their self talk say the words before repeating them to the audience.
Memorizing Words – Problem 1
Most people do not understand that normal memory is done by recalling pictures, sounds and feelings. For instance, when someone tells a story, they remember what they’ve seen, heard, and felt which gets expressed through body language, vocal tone, and words. The reality is that what got the laughs were more often than not, the speaker’s responses to the circumstances of their tale.
Memorizing Words – Problem 2
When a story goes well, the speakers then mistakenly believe it was successful because of what they said. So they reduce the story about something that really happened to a script of words, and then memorize those words verbatim. Then when the talk was given again with the memorized words the whole thing falls flat. Ouch.
Memorizing Words – Problem 3
Normal memory of recalling pictures, sounds, and feelings is replaced with the unnatural act of memorizing the words and repeating them correctly. The consequence of this is the speakers have stopped remembering and responding to the experiences of the story. It’s not funny or entertaining to watch someone remember correctly.
Memorizing Words – Problem 4
Memorizing words leads to emotional dissociation. Emotions are a major aspect of responding to the pictures, sounds, and feelings of the story. Words are symbols, not sensory experiences. Therefore, words don’t activate emotional responses because they’re not experiences.
For instance, the reading and remembering of the word, “argument,” have no effect on a person’s emotions. But if an actual argument runs through person’s head, especially one where they were absolutely right, they’ll get angry all over again. Blood pressure goes up, face reddens, breathing accelerates, and so forth.
These behaviors, and more, are activated by the speakers recalling and unconsciously responding to what they’re seeing, hearing, and feeling as they’re remembering the argument inside their head. Whereas, the word, “argument” will not cause any of these behaviors because it’s a symbol, not an event.
Emotions are the ultimate communication link between the speaker and the audience. If the speaker is emotionally disassociated, the audience will not be engaged.
Memorizing Words – Problem 5
Another downside of memorizing the words is the speakers’ personality disappears from the presentation. When the focus of the speaker is on remembering and then repeating the words, which are symbols, the information being imparted has no impact on the speaker’s personality.
When the content doesn’t affect the speakers, the audience doesn’t get to know who these people are because they aren’t honestly communicating their values and beliefs about the points being made. Instead, they’ve turned into reporters of information, like on tv news shows, with a flat and neutral demeanor.
The audience wants to be engaged and pulled into the sensory world of the speakers. This is not possible as long as the mind is using the wrong memory software.
In my next post, I’ll continue exploring more problems created by memorizing the words of talks, presentations, or routines.