This may be a dumb question. I would like to improve my presentation skills.

So should I rehearse my presentation at least 5-10-20 times? Or should I memorise my presentation and practice it enough?

When rehearsing, I make my presentation in front of a mirror and observe that I deliver the same messages in a different way in each time, while if I memorise what to say for each slide of my presentation, then I deliver the same messages in same way very confidently each time I practice in front of a mirror.

So I am getting confused which one is the better method to deliver an effective presentation?

  • 2
    You should use whatever method works for you. That method will most likely change over time. Personally, I prefer hearing presentations that are rehearsed, rather than memorised.
    – user2768
    Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 17:50
  • Have you seen academia.stackexchange.com/questions/17984/…? Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 17:52
  • 7
    The best are presentations based on understanding : these can easily change direction due to questions or interest from the audience.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 18:11
  • 1
    My clues are: don't memorise, don't read from a sheet of paper, rehearse, like 5 times, try to remember a general red thread and speak naturally. Manage your time. Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 18:15
  • 2
    A further nuance: Practice the first few minutes more often and with a more polished/definitive wording than the remainder of your talk. The first few minutes are special, because you need to grab the audience's attention and make them feel comfortable listening to you. This is the part where you need to project confidence. Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 20:09

4 Answers 4


It's not "either rehearse or memorize". Also, your sentence "In rehearse, every time I make presentations in front of mirror and observe that I am delivering same messages in a different way in each time." got me thinking that you probably rehearse inefficiently.

The purpose of rehearsal is to improve your presentation. So after every rehearsal you should reflect about your performance, think about points that did not come across right, and about ways to improve the presentation. If you just start over again without reflection and without a new, improved plan, you do a weird mix of "not really rehearsing" and "not really memorizing".

I'd say, a good rehearsal includes quite some memorization for the crucial parts. However, if you rehearse long enough, you may get to some point where do not even memorize your lines, but where the presentation has a natural flow such that your previously memorized phrases come out naturally.

I'd say, bare memorization is ok, but may be dangerous if you don't know the story line of your presentation as a whole. Imagine that you loose you lines and get stuck in the middle of the presentation. So also rehearse to speak freely but memorize some lines that you find particularly good at crucial points. A good structure of the presentation and a good story is very helpful here (and for a badly structured presentation, neither memorizing nor rehearsal will lead to a good presentation, anyway).


Prepare on your own first and then -- this is the key -- give a practice talk to a small group. Ask a friend to jot down notes from the feedback people give you at the end. Make sure the people you invite to listen to your practice talk know how to give constructive feedback in a supportive way.

If you are fairly inexperienced, you may want to do some rinsing and repeating -- but don't overdo it or the talk will lose its freshness.


There's no right answer here.

I had a colleague who would rehearse her presentation to the point of memorization. (Important detail: this was in the days when transparencies were still used in preference to laptops.) During her presentation, she discovered her slides got messed up in traveling, and had a very hard time recovering from the problem. So the problem with memorization is that you may or may not be able to deal with it if you're thrown off your script somehow.

However, some people get so nervous about the idea of a presentation that they can't handle it without memorizing what they're going to say. The reason why this works for them is that recitation uses a fundamentally different part of your brain than normal conversation. (This is why people who stutter in normal life don't stutter when acting.)

Personally, I try to just have a list of major points for the slides, and then work "with the audience" to get my points across. (For instance, if I'm talking to a room full of chemists, I'll give a different talk than when I'm presenting to an audience of chemical engineers or computational scientists.)

But you just have to experiment and find what works best for you.


I cannot memorise and so would always rehearse. At first I was very nervous and practiced many times, but over the years I learned to care less. These days, I am confident enough in my knowledge of a subject to trust that the slides will queue me to say what is needed to get the message across. Anyhow, I do not know if this applies to you, but I would recommend that you sometimes talk without preparation. The quality of the presentation will suffer and it becomes more difficult to manage your time (so save this for an informal presentation), but it is a liberating experience and I find that it removes most of the stress involved.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .