Let's play a game.
Think back to the last meeting/presentation you attended.
What words, phrases, and/or images do you remember?
For most of us, the answer is "none."
We can usually recall vaguely what the presentation was about, but unless the speaker was a seasoned pro, we don't recall many specific moments.
(Unless someone spilled coffee all over the table. That we tend to remember.)
Why is that?
And, more importantly, what can we do to make ourselves as memorable as the seasoned speaker or spilled coffee?
The best way to ensure your presentation is memorable is to use what I like to call "sticky language."
Sticky language is specific and sensory (and receives extra bonus points if it's surprising!)
Let's say I was giving a presentation on how to make your speech more memorable. (I know, very meta.)
Here are two ways I could teach my lesson.
Which example do you think is going to be more effective?
My money's on example 2.
Let's break down why line-by-line:
1. "Want to become a more compelling speaker?" (non-sticky)
2. "Want people to lean forward in their seats while you're talking?" (sticky)
It's easy to see why example 2 wins out. It's much more specific and visual. "Compelling speaker" could mean almost anything.
1. "People tend to remember visual language more than non-visual language." (non-sticky)
2. "Sensory language sticks to the brain like a suction cup arrow." (sticky)
Example 2 has it again. "Suction cup arrow" is sensory and specific and also gets bonus points for being a little bit surprising. I'm guessing you weren't expecting to hear about a toy archery set in the middle of your presentation skills class.
The element of surprise is what's going to allow you to compete with the spilled coffee cup ;)
1. "That's why it's important that you describe your concepts in a way that people can visualize if you want them to remember what you said the next day." (non-sticky)
2. "Use your words to paint a picture in your audiences' minds. Those pictures will stay with them long after your presentation is over." (sticky)
I don't think I need to belabor the point...
But, I do think it's important to note: Both descriptions used the same exact amount of words.
Using sticky language doesn't mean adding a bunch of flowery embellishments to your presentations. It means you're using your words with specificity.
Of course, sticky language isn't the only way to make your presentation stand out.
In fact, I recently put together a done-for-you template for how to craft a killer presentation.
Till next time, have fun shooting those arrows! May your aim be true and your language be sticky ;)
Sara Glancy is an NYC-based actor and public speaking coach and the founder of Speak Masterfully, a service that helps professionals take the stage with less fear and more fun!
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Photo by Jessica Osber.