How many times have you sat in a conference, seminar, business meeting or lecture, listened to one speaker or a series of speakers, and found that at the end of the day you couldn’t remember anything specific that was said?
The presentations all seemed to run together like rivers flowing to the ocean, and while you’re left with a mountain of material, nothing stands out. When someone asks you to recap what a particular speaker said, you find yourself scratching your head awkwardly and confessing that you’ll have to look at the handout or consult your notes. You really can’t remember a thing.
Is it your fault? Were you not paying attention? Is your memory failing you? Were you bored, sleepy, or distracted? What were you there to learn? Assuming that you chose to attend, paid attention and listened carefully, why didn’t you learn it?
On another occasion, you attend a talk and come away with loads of information that you’re happy to share with anyone who asks. You feel that you understood the speaker’s key points almost by osmosis and can repeat them practically verbatim.
You’re delighted at how much you remember and anxious to put it into good use in your daily life.
What’s the difference?
Chances are the speaker whose presentation you remember so vividly has learned to chunk it down, punch it up and offer her material in easily digested, memorable phrases. She has employed the Interview Technique and mastered the art of speaking in sound bites.
Take a look at the most successful interview shows. Whether it’s the news or late night entertainment, the shows you learn the most from are those in which the interviewers and guests have prepared what they want to say in clever, pithy, knowledgeable, cogent phrases that are easy for the audience to absorb quickly and repeat later. Unique and sexy public speakers do exactly the same thing.
Speakers of all kinds are remembered for the memorable phrases they offer in key moments that define who they are or what their platform is or how they look at the world.
When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated in 1960, what does everyone remember from his speech? “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” He reminded us of our historic American belief in the value of service to our country in exchange for the benefits we enjoy as citizens.
Remember Richard M. Nixon‘s angry, “I am not a crook!” He connected to the universal human instinct to fight back when they feel they’re being falsely maligned.
Princess Diana, when interviewed about the break-up of her marriage to Prince Charles, memorably said, “There were three people in my marriage.” She painted an instant picture of her relationship with her husband that everyone who felt betrayed by a spouse could relate to.
The key to creating sound bites that your listeners will instantly understand and remember is to connect them to the universal thoughts, feelings and attitudes of your audience. Use metaphors, similes, or whatever is most appropriate to describe the concept you want remembered in an easy to absorb format. Paint a visual picture like Princess Diana. Connect to a universal human emotion like President Nixon. Create a rhythmic, musical or alliterative phrase that sings to your audience like President Kennedy.
Use the Interview Technique to create sound bites that emphasize the key points or evidence in your speech that you most want your listeners to relate to and agree with. Make your sound bites long enough to clearly make your point but short enough to be easily remembered. Be colorful and topical and connect them to current thoughts and attitudes in your industry. Be as universal as you can. Your audience will reward you by remembering not only what you say, but also by admiring you as the memorable speaker they came to hear.