Using Fewer Examples = A Memorable Speech

August 23, 2008

When you see a standup comic, such as Robin Williams, rattle off hundreds of one-liners in the course of a 30-60 minute performance, you often leave the show thinking that was hilarious, but I don’t remember any of the jokes.

If you are a public speaker, that’s not what you want your audience thinking as they leave your presentation (maybe the “hilarious” part, but of course, you want them remembering at least parts of your speech).

A friend of mine recently gave a speech loaded with great examples to illustrate his speech premise. In fact, in the course of his seven-minute speech, he used so many examples (5, 6, maybe even 10), I lost track. Not only that, I hardly remembered any of them.

To make your speech memorable, it’s best to wrap a story around your key points. People remember stories, but bullet points are often lost on them moments after the speech ends, if not sooner.

If you have multiple examples to illustrate a key point, choose the most powerful example and run it through the Sinatra Test, a phrase that comes from the book, Made to Stick (which I wrote about here).

Stories stick in people’s minds. And best of all, stories can have the power to make people act.

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