Brain Power and CALL

Picture this: You’re standing in front of 30 other students, ready to give your first speech. This morning you felt okay about it, but now your stomach is in knots. All of the sudden, you freeze. You can’t remember how your speech starts! Or how it ends! Or the middle! Surely the information has left your brain; it’s not in there! You filled it too full of chemical formulas and Shakespeare sonnets! There simply wasn’t enough room to handle a speech, too! You’re doomed.

But fear not! It is in there somewhere! See, our brain’s capacity is so immense that there is literally no way you could ever run out of space. According to Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, our brain has somewhere around one billion neurons, which gives us a memory capacity of nearly one million gigabytes. Now, I feel like we sometimes don’t seem to understand the immensity of numbers, so let me say again. We have 1,000,000 gigabytes of storage in our brains; that is the same capacity of nearly 63,000 iPhones. Reber breaks this down even further, telling us that “if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes [equivalent to 1 million GB] would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.” (source)

What you are probably experiencing is anxiety, which happens to everyone, especially in your first speech! There are several ways to combat anxiety, such as being prepared, being organized, and making practice real. Preparedness is essential to a successful speech delivery. Knowing your content and having practiced several times will put you at ease, knowing that you’re ready to rock. Additionally, having a well-organized speech with a clear beginning, middle, and end will help cut down your stress and worry, building up your effectiveness and results! Lastly, practicing your speech in mock real-life situations will allow you to be comfortable with the environment you’ll most likely be in while delivering!

To put any and all of these tips into motion, swing by the CALL center on ASU West Campus, located on the third floor of SANDS. We’ve got the resources you need to combat anxiety and dig that information out of the crevasses of your brain. Our dedicated mentors are eager to help!


What Is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain? (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2015, from

Posted in Communication Assessment and Learning Lab News