By Eddie Darroch, Toastmasters International.
When we give a pitch or presentation we want our words and ideas to stick in the minds of our audience. Luckily there are ways to ensure that our audience members remember both the memorable points and the speaker. As an added bonus, using these tools can improve your own memory retention as your prepare to present.
The first weapon in our memory armoury is involving all the senses:
Sound can act both as a tool in its own right but also as a reinforcement. When you describe a ‘crashing cymbal’ or a ‘crack of thunder’ the audience is automatically given an image as well as adding a sense of drama to your speech.
Symbolism related to sound can trigger powerful associations for audiences. Mentioning the skirl of the bagpipes at a Remembrance Day parade may bring to mind the ‘devils in skirts’, the famous nickname given to the Highland regiments due to their ferocious fighting during WW1 by the German soldiers.
The more visual imagery contained in your speech or presentation, the more memorable it becomes. Take the following example: ‘‘A fox with glasses told his submarine to dive beneath the surface’’.
This is reasonably unusual but if you were to dial up the imagery, you might produce, ‘The reddish orange fox adjusted his sky-blue goggles and barked the order for his yellow submarine to dive beneath the salty, emerald sea’.
Such use of vivid imagery helps to create more powerful memories for your audience.
Invoking aromas can produce impressive reactions; take for example wine descriptions on a menu, ‘Dark Cherry’, ‘Peppery’, ‘Fruity’. These spark mental associations in the same way as perfumes being described as floral, musky or woody. Your ability to link language to senses invokes strong memories.
Think of any restaurant menu and the highly descriptive choice of words like crafted, fire-roasted or hand-dived, all of which are designed to activate your taste buds, enticing you to buy. It is no different to persuading your audience to believe in what you’re saying.
If you run your fingers over an object, what feeling do you experience? Can what you’re describing be thought of as smooth, rough or perhaps sharp?
The most potent weapon for a speaker wishing to deliver a notable speech are ‘word hacks’; seemingly simple word magic tricks that can be used to dazzle an audience.
Here’s an example – ‘Mocha is not my cup of tea’ is mildly amusing wordplay but when you learn it refers to a horse named Mocha and a nervous rider is making the remark, the meaning resonates further with the listener.
5 more top tips
- People in Greek and Roman times placed great emphasis on oratory, developing a raft of techniques which are still in use today, in a range of remarkable settings. You might be surprised to learn that the last word of a sentence used to begin the next sentence, exemplified in Star Wars by Yoda in his, ‘Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering’ is in fact a rhetorical device called anadiplosis. It’s reasonably certain that any speaker would want to be thought of as possessing Yoda’s wisdom.
- An effective, simple and easily remembered tip is to employ the Tricolon; epitomised most famously by Julius Caesar. Veni. Vidi.Vici. I came. I saw. I conquered.
- President Trump also uses Paralipsis; Omission. ‘I refuse to say she ran that business into the ground.’ ‘I never attacked him for being a dummy.’ ‘I was going to say sorry but I won’t’.’ There may be occasions when this device is useful e.g. “I won’t dwell on the fact that competitor X had a recent product recall”. Which highlights how much more reliable your company is.
- A highly effective communicator like Barack Obama also employed rhetorical skills, his weapon of choice being Epistrophe – ending successive points with the same phrase – who could forget the simple yet strident statement ‘Yes we can’?
- Alliteration; using the same sound or letter at the start of a word – makes your speech both memorable and easy to memorise though you have to be careful not to give yourself a verbal stumbling block
A recent article in the Economist talked about eating rabbit. It used two alliterations in quick succession; ‘Lapping up lapin’ which is reasonably simple to remember but went on to say, ‘But the hutch-based solution that Mr Maduro has hatched has run into a hitch’. The second example would require practice and verbal dexterity from a confident speaker to deliver the full comic effect.
When people give their time to listen to you they want to remember you, what you’ve said and what you have to offer. One effective way is by using language they don’t often hear. If you write and deliver your next presentation using these tips you will separate yourself from other entrepreneurs and be the person whose words everyone remembers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eddie Darroch is from Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club: www.toastmasters.org Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.