Article Category: Speechwriting

9 Tips to Make Your Speech Memorable

How many truly memorable speeches have you delivered?

The art of creating a memorable speech is something that is often sought after, but rarely achieved. Frustratingly, many people assume that truly memorable speeches are reserved for those with an elusive “born with it” skill set.

In reality, nobody is born with the skills for public speaking, but you can develop them with hard work. A memorable speech is within your grasp. With that in mind, let’s review nine tips that will make your speech memorable for your audience.

1. Organize your speech into segments.

Consider your speech as a book for a moment. A typical book is split into chapters and parts that create a cohesive whole but can stand on their own. Applying the same logic to your speech will make it easier for you to deliver important takeaways and keep the audience focused on what you are saying.

Segmented speeches are far more memorable and easier to keep in mind after they have been delivered. The reason for this is that each segment can be recalled independently, and converge to form the overall message. An unorganized speech with no rhythm or discernible sections will easily be forgotten.

To be forgettable: Deliver a speech about a medical condition and its effects on a human body with all your points jumbled together.

To be memorable: Deliver a speech about a medical condition and its effects on a human body with distinct segments for each effect that support each other.

2. Include concrete details.

People crave concrete information, such as facts, numbers, statistics, and photographs. Without concrete details, speeches quickly become overly abstract and hard to connect with. Concrete information in your speech helps you ensure that your points are remembered long-term.

To be forgettable: Present a company’s future forecast solely in abstract terms.

To be memorable: Present a company’s future forecast by highlighting their lineup of new products with relevant market data.

3. Use words understood by your audience.

To deliver a memorable speech, you must analyze your audience. In particular, consider the education level and vocabulary of your audience before writing your speech. As well, consider whether your audience includes people who are not fluent in your speaking language. Use terminology that everyone will understand, and avoid technical jargon that they won’t. A single confusing word or phrase at a critical point can make your meaning incomprehensible to your audience.

To be forgettable: Give a speech using renewable energy technical language to an audience of elementary school children.

To be memorable: Give a speech using renewable energy technical language to an audience of energy industry professionals.

4. Leverage concepts understood by your audience.

Similar to the previous point, leveraging commonly understood concepts can result in exciting and memorable speeches. It isn’t always easy, but when you find common ground between you and your audience, you can make even the most complex arguments understandable and memorable. On the other hand, if you reference concepts that the audience doesn’t understand, or assume knowledge that they don’t have, you’re in trouble; your audience will not be able to follow your arguments, and they will forget your words as soon as you’ve spoken them.

To be forgettable: Use analogies based on graphic design concepts for an audience with no knowledge of graphic design.

To be memorable: Use analogies based on graphic design concepts for an audience of graphic design professionals.

5. Interact with the audience.

People rarely sit and listen to monologues without dozing off, especially if the subject matter is not intrinsically exciting. Rather than expecting your audience to passively absorb information, ask them questions about the points you are making and invite interaction by offering small rewards or incentives for doing so. Activate your audience as much as possible if you want them to remember your message for a long time.

To be forgettable: Deliver a motivational speech about self-discipline as a monologue.

To be memorable: Deliver a motivational speech about self-discipline, following each point with interactive triggers for the audience to share related personal anecdotes.

6. Include personal stories.

Some people don’t like to share their personal stories and experiences with strangers. However, a well-crafted story is one of the best catalysts for speech memorability. Sift through your memories and find relatable, heartwarming, or funny moments that are relevant to the point you are making. Personal stories invite the audience to empathize and place themselves in your speech and situation. People are far more likely to remember your small personal story and trace it back to the point of your speech than vice versa.

To be forgettable: Speak about your career as a vegan nutritionist with no stories.

To be memorable: Speak about your career as a vegan nutritionist, and tell your story about growing up in a family of omnivores.

7. Add a catchphrase.

Pop culture catchphrases can help you deliver a more distinct and memorable speech with virtually any topic. The secret to selecting the right catchphrase depends on what its role would be in your speech. You can use it to announce a break in your thought process, establish a connection with the audience, or simply make your points more digestible. Catchphrases can be added to your speech in a number of ways: as titles of your PowerPoint slides, as punch lines, or any other time to add a surprise element. Catchphrases can transform even the most serious topics into enjoyable ones. Just don’t overdo it; one is probably enough for most presentations.

To be forgettable: Speak about a topic related to modern literature.

To be memorable: Speak about a topic related to modern literature, and include a literature catchphrase that everyone in your audience will recognize (e.g. “Here’s Johnny!” from Stephen King’s The Shining).

8. Practice thoroughly and deliver confidently.

Stumbling on your speech delivery might come off as quirky and relatable – the first time it happens. However, if you continue stumbling, it’s hard to recover. A speaker who lacks confidence as they deliver will likely be forgotten quickly.

Instead, prepare your speech by reciting it over and over. Although it is better to speak without notes, don’t be afraid to bring cards or notes. Talking in a fluent and understandable manner without abrupt pauses constitutes a successful speech delivery.

To be forgettable: Don’t prepare. Improvise your speech.

To be memorable: Prepare adequately. Rehearse your speech content and anticipate questions that might come from the audience.

9. End with a quote and a call-to-action.

A speech that lacks finality and conclusiveness is likely to be received as sloppy and entirely forgettable. An effective ending to a speech can ensure long-term memorability and audience action in accordance with your message.

Be forgettable: Deliver a speech about volunteerism and end by quietly thanking the audience.

Be memorable: Deliver a speech about volunteerism and end by quoting Muhammad Ali (“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”) and encouraging your audience with a call-to-action (“Pay your rent. Volunteer!”).

It’s Your Turn…

Delivering a great speech is about self-confidence and carefully crafting your speech using techniques like those above. You can be memorable in your next opportunity to speak, and every opportunity after that.

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Comments icon2 Comments

  1. Dan Greig says:

    I look forward to every Six Minutes article. They are always filled with practical useful advice, with great examples that we can put into our speeches.

  2. Thank you for sharing Elisa. I loved the tips, especially adding a catchphrase which I believe it’s something that can stay for a long time in the minds of the audience.
    I would add Be Authentic, be yourself to the list. There are many who still try to emulate what they watch on TED talks, or from their teachers and coaches, and forget to really be themselves…which unfortunately the audience picks up, and can be the very reason why they forget you. After all, even after you’ve finished your speech, they haven’t met you.

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