How Ed Miliband Memorised his 6,000 Word Conference Speech : Smart Memory Power

How Ed Miliband Memorised his 6,000 Word Speech

It all began one year ago at the 2011 Labour Party conference in Liverpool…

how to memorize a speech

Ed Miliband speaking at the Labour Party conference. Image: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Having given a rousing keynote speech to the assembled party members, Ed Miliband left the stage. As he did, the Labour leader commented to his aides that he could have done the same speech more effectively without using an autocue.

Fast forward to the 2012 Labour Party conference in Manchester two days ago. Miliband took to the stage and gave a 65-minute, 6,000 word speech… with no notes and no autocue.

How did he remember 6,000 words and then be able to present them in an engaging way?

It turns out that Labour Party insiders have revealed the secret… And it’s something you can do too.

How To Memorise a Long Speech

Miliband split his speech into 11 sections and then remembered each one individually. By breaking it down, he made the speech manageable in his mind.

That’s the first hurdle to memorising any speech. If you look at the speech and feel daunted, break it down into more manageable sections, then focus on one at a time. Don’t move on until you’ve got the first one nailed.

It’s also been revealed that he began learning the 11 sections well in advance. In fact, Labour Party insiders have said that he first began learning the speech while on holiday.

Again, this is a brilliant approach to take because when you’re on holiday, you’re at your most relaxed.

When you’re in a relaxed state, a number of things happen to help you remember more, including:

  • You have very low levels of the stress hormone cortisol which can impair your ability to remember.
  • You’re also likely to be more creative as your mind is more free to wander and make connections that would otherwise not be made.

I’m not saying you need a holiday to learn a speech. What I am saying is that you need to make sure you’re as relaxed as possible when learning it. If you do a run-through and you forget it, don’t beat yourself up. Just start again calmly, having looked over your notes.

Another interesting thing to note about Ed Miliband’s memory feat is that he didn’t learn the speech by rote (word-for-word).

According to one Labour Party insider, every time Mr Miliband rehearsed the speech, it came out slightly differently.

“The idea was to make sure Ed had a connection with people, that he said what he felt rather than what he learnt,” he said.

This means that Mr Miliband had a clear idea of what he wanted to say. The wording was important, but not so important that it had to be 100% perfect.

How He Could Have Remembered More

Although it went very well indeed, the speech wasn’t perfect. Mr Miliband forgot to use some of the material he’d prepared about environmental issues.

He could have avoided this oversight by using techniques such as the Peg method or better still, the Journey Method.

By using images and placing them along a journey that is familiar to him, Ed Miliband could have pictured each image and remembered to talk about them in the order he found them on the planned journey.

This ensures that you’re less likely to forget what you want to talk about. For a beautiful example of this technique in action, watch this video.

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So, there you have it! Hats off to Mr Miliband for using the often treacherous ‘no notes’ approach, and making it work.

There’s one last important point to learn from this oratorial memory feat, and it comes from Ed Miliband himself…

‘In the end, if you really believe something, you don’t need a text.’

Did you see the speech? What do you think of the ‘no notes’ approach? Do you have any memory tips for memorising speeches? Let us know in the comments section below and be sure to share this on Facebook and Twitter.

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I'm James Gladwell, chief contributor and editor of I'm fascinated by the human mind and I set this site up in order to help people increase their memory power, while I learned how to improve mine. Feel free to leave a comment on the site and let me know how you think I can make the site better.

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