Let’s get down to business. How can you make it easier for your audience to remember your speech? The most important thing you’ll need to do is capture their imagination.
To get started, think about a movie or book that has stayed with you over the years. Great writers and film makers know how to grab your attention and keep you on the edge of your seat. How do they do it?
The Intro: Memorable books and films grab you from the very first sentence or opening scene. There is a mystery that captures your imagination. Take a look at the opening scene from Jaws, for example.
In this case, it’s the sudden death of a beautiful girl swimming in the ocean. The cause of the death is not seen in the introduction, but it will become clear and take center stage in the movie. The audience wants to know what happened to her and whether it can be stopped.
When you take the stage, it’s best to avoid the traditional self-introduction. The people attending your presentation already know who you are.
If need be, have the person who introduces you establish your credibility, or have that background information available in a handout as people come in. It’s your job to grab their attention with a startling, profound, funny, or otherwise engaging beginning, or hook.
The Hook: Writers and screenwriters have a central story, or idea, to share. They have chosen to spend a great deal of time and money and physical, and emotional labor to tell you about it. They believe it’s important and worth the effort. What is your central idea? What do you want your audience to walk away knowing, believing, or doing? Do you believe in the idea yourself? Why?
The Audience: Writers know their audience. With some exceptions, movies and books are targeted at a very specific audience.
They know what their audience cares about and what will inspire them. They use this knowledge to inform the creative choices they make when presenting the story. Who is your audience and what inspires them?
The Sequence: All stories have a beginning, middle and end. Some storytellers choose to move in chronological order, while others have flashbacks, prequels, sequels, and or an afterword.
Think about what order will have the most impact. Is there a surprising ending that can be told first, followed by the backstory? Or is chronological a better order? What would be most engaging from your audience’s perspective?
The Spice: Visuals are like spice. They add something special to your speech. But if over-utilized, they will drown out the central message.
Limit your visual to no more than one new one every ten minutes. Like great passages in books and films, they make ideal transition markers between important points. Make the image bold and keep the words on the screen to a minimum.
The Wrap: Both your introduction and conclusion should comprise about 15% each of your speech. You’ve spent a lot of time on your presentation and want people to leave with something memorable. This is the time to conclude the story you were telling, present a call to action, remind the audience of your central point, or wow them with a compelling quote or testimony. Go out strong!
Finally, remember that the attendees came to hear you. This already give you an edge. Take that as your starting point and make the rest happen by doing the work ahead of time to engage your audience with a memorable speech. Try using some of these tips the next time you are invited to speak and let me know how it went.
What are some of your favorite ways to make a speech memorable? I would love to hear them!
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