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  • Writer's pictureJim M. Morgan

Executive Communications: How to make it memorable



As an expert in executive communications, I am often asked how to make a message memorable. Most messages are delivered to provoke some action, but without being memorable, subsequent action is unlikely. How can you help ensure your audience not only hears your words, but retains them? Here are three suggestions for making your messages more memorable.

 


Identification

 

One of the best ways to ensure your audience remembers your words is to help them identify with you as a person. The more they can connect with you, the more likely they are to connect with your words.

 

For example, if you are speaking to educators, you might share an educational experience that was especially impactful for you. Similarly, a speech to business leaders might include details about how your family business came to be.

 

I’m not suggesting you can do this in every instance, and the worst thing you can do is be inauthentic. Identification cannot be forced. But in many instances, an honest, personal story can help your audience identify with you. Think about experiences that are unique to you and how you might incorporate those to help your audience remember both you and your message.

 

Alliteration

 

Silly as it may sound, alliteration is almost always advantageous. Given the choice, our brains prefer to spend a “misty Monday indexing invoices” to a “cloudy Tuesday filing bills.” The first seems playful and poetic, the second plodding and pedestrian.

 

Think about ways in which you can alliterate within your messaging. My favorite way is to choose key words that align. For example, if your message has three main points, think about the possibility of each point starting with the same letter, or the same sound. For my money, a speech built around “education, engagement and equity” is inherently more memorable than one about “schooling, volunteering, and fairness.” If a first-letter match isn’t feasible, other similarities can suffice. This column is built around three words ending in “tion.” A word of caution – don’t overdo it. Alliteration is a spice – use it sparingly. A little goes a long way.

 

Repetition

 

Perhaps the most obvious way to help your audience remember your message is to repeat it. Done well, you can create a mantra of sorts, or a drumbeat. Some speakers do this with rhetorical questions; they repeatedly ask their audiences things like, “What can we do?” or “How you can help?”

 

Questions can work just fine, but I prefer to create an impactful statement and return to it a few times. For example, a speech about the importance of individual philanthropy might be built around the phrase, “It’s up to us.” The speaker would return to this phrase at three to five key moments within the speech. As with alliteration, repetition works in managed doses – too little can go unnoticed, too much will be annoying.

 

Don’t forget, the suggestions shared here can help a message be more memorable, but they are no substitute for the message itself. When drafting a speech, focus first on what is to be communicated. Make sure the message is clear. Then and only then think about use of identification, alliteration and repetition to ensure the message is also memorable.

 

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