Does Barack Obama memorize his speeches? I can't imagine that he does but it never looks like he's reading them.
No, he does not memorize his speeches.
He is reading them off of a teleprompter.
Pay attention to his immediate area and you will see two stands on either side of the podium or dias.
On top of those stands is a rectangular plexiglass that reflects the words of the speech to his eyes, that is projected from the base of the stand.
Since the stands are placed to the left and right of the podium, he can switch between them to read and it looks like he is looking at the crowd of people.
He ALWAYS looked at them.
Not on paper on the podium but as others pointed out it was projected.
Fairly common practice for speakers and musicians to have their speech or lyrics projected; improves posture and seems more engaging.
Obama was critized for being one of the most scripted President ever.
Jeb Bush said in a speech during the 2016 republican primaries , that he was standing behind Obama as he was giving his speech.
From behind Obama he could read what was on the TelePrompTer.
He discovered to his surprise that Obama was not adhering closely to the TelePrompTer but was just using it as a guide and adlibbing on his own.
This was when he discovered that Obama was a brilliant orator