There's a conversation going on at More Cows about preaching without manuscripts. I wrote such a carzy-long commment that I deleted it from there and posted it over here. I'm delighted to discover that, although I'm so green at this full time solo ministry biz that I actually have an opinion about something.
I've preached both with and without manuscripts. It's not more work, just a different kind.
Here's the method I use. I had a colleague who told me once to think of it like stringing pearls on a necklace (I think he heard that from Walter Brueggemann). If you have a story or two you know you want to tell, it helps. Also, study the text like usual, but instead of writing things down, listen for what sticks with you. Pray, however it works for you. For me, praying involves a brisk walk. Then:
1. On a card, write this sentence: "the theme of this sermon is..." then fill in the blanks with a short (I mean 3-4 words!) sentence.
2. Stand in the sanctuary.
3. Read the scriptures out loud.
4. Read them out loud again. (this is to get you used to the sound of your own voice).
5. "String the pearls" - that is, say out loud names or keywords by which you'll remember the stories in a row like this: "sermon theme, Father Mike, story about lost wallet, exegesis of passage #1, story about field of flowers, exegesis of passage #2, read Lamott quote, repeat sermon theme" It's best if the sermon theme kind of ties all the stories together. (ha! in this and all preaching, I guess!)
6. At this point you might want to arrange or re-arrange the "pearls".
7. Repeat 5 and 6 two or three times until the "pearls" are all really set in your mind.
8. Go through the whole sermon one last time, this time telling each story outloud. In other words, filling in the stories that until now have been only titles or keywords.
9. Now go home. You can overpractice it and then it sounds stale - part of the point is to keep it sounding conversational and extemporaneous - like you're just talking about things as they come to you.
10. You might want to write your keywords on a card to keep in your pocket, which I do but hardly ever look at. It's a good security blanket, though.
I'm usually about 12-15 minute preacher and this works well for that length. If you're used to going longer, I'm not so sure. My experience is that I'm more nervous on Sunday morning (which is why I'm not doing this at my new call since I've only been there 3 weeks and I'm nervous enough already!), but people respond really really really well. If they are not used to it, it delights them - like you're giving them a little present. I sometimes use props, which helps alot with remembering what's coming next too.