Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Making your message more memorable, part of Communication Foundations (2013).
- A big, burly, six foot, six inch corporate vice president, in a meeting, grabbed his shorter boss by his sport coat lapels, smiled, then kissed him right on top of his bald head. I'm not kidding, I'm not making this up, and I'm not even stretching the truth. He kissed him right on top of his bald head, right there. I'll tell more of the story, but that's already enough to remember five ways to make your message more memorable. Grab their mental lapels, paint a picture, tell a story that sticks, put emotion in motion, and KISS your listeners.
Number one, grab their mental lapels. In our opening, the big VP literally grabbed his boss's lapels. You'll do it figuratively. Seize their attention positively. Motivate them to not multitask by starting with an attention-getting question, fact, statistic, or an analogy, quotation, anecdote, or a surprising statement that supports your positive purpose. Two, paint a picture. Specifics are much more vivid than concepts. It's the difference between someone saying, "Look, sea life," when you're swimming in the ocean versus "Look, a great white shark!" Images compress massive information and persist in the mind.
Think of a favorite snapshot of you with friends. An entire block of thought and emotion is immediately available. Paint pictures in your communication. Re-create specific details from your experience that advance your purpose. In your mind's eye, see it vividly, like a scene from a movie, then provide enough concrete detail to re-create that scene in the minds of your listeners. That's the test of whether you've done it or not. Is it re-created vividly enough for people who weren't part of the original experience to "see" it? In the boss kissing example, there were several details.
The VP's six foot, six inch height, grabbing the sport coat lapels, and smooching the boss on his bald head. You can also add detail by describing sounds or dialogue. Number three, tell a story that sticks. Storytelling is deeply rooted in history across cultures. We're programmed to hook into stories. We're affected by them, remember them, and retell them. Stories stick. For business communication stories that stick, try the PST story, which stands for problem, solution, takeaway.
Start with the problem, a difficult challenge you or your team faced. Next, bring your listeners towards the solution, how you dealt with or overcame the challenge. Finally, reinforce the reason you're telling this particular story at this time, for this audience by stating the takeaway you want them to remember. To illustrate, here's more from our example with the big VP. He addressed the problem, P, of how to make a boring, strategic-planning session more engaging. His solution, the S, for his presentation on growth in Europe, he drew on his own lineage and dressed up as a German fraulein, wig, dress and all, and made things upbeat and fun.
He achieved his takeaway, T, energizing the team about the topic. Don't follow his example literally. My takeaway for you is to use the steps appropriate to your situation, not to kiss your boss. Four, put emotion in motion. To stay in people's minds, engage their hearts. We remember associations with strong feelings. Think of your favorite songs from growing up, for example. You can put emotion in motion by choosing an important part of your message you want your listeners to remember and the feeling you want them to associate with it.
Maybe you want them to feel inspired, or motivated, maybe determined, or appreciated, encouraged, or something else. Next, use the techniques that we just covered, which are ideal vehicles for inspiring emotion. Paint a picture or tell a story that includes the emotion you want them to feel. Telling the boss kissing story, I hoped you felt some happiness, because I think learning should be fun. Key takeaway, decide what you want your listeners to feel, then paint pictures or tell stories to inspire those feelings.
Five, KISS your listeners. You might know another KISS acronym, K-I-S-S, for Keep It Simple, Stupid. I don't like the second S. No acronym is going to insult my listeners. So, let's upgrade it and add a technique while we're at it. The second S means squared, like in math, multiplying the same thing by itself. It's the principle of repetition, another way to make your message more memorable. Keep It Simple Squared. You'll often hear repetition in great communication.
A famous inspiring example is Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. For the points you really want to drive home, simplicity plus repetition can add punch. You can say, "Let me emphasize," or "I'd like to highlight," then repeat your important point. In my big VP example, there were several repetitions, including two times about the bald head kiss, which also doubles up as the acronym for this fifth technique. Make your message more memorable. If your listeners remember more, your impact increases, and they can share your message with others, enhancing your reputation.
You can use the burly boss-kisser as a fun way to remember five ways to make your message more memorable. Grab their mental lapels, paint a picture, tell a sticky story, put emotion in motion, and then finally, remember always to KISS your listeners, Keep It Simple Squared. KISS them once, KISS them twice, KISS them twice to recall your advice.
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- Managing the intent-impact gap
- Designing the content of your message
- Improving vocal delivery
- Adjusting your body language
- Being politically savvy
- Listening to what's said, what's unsaid, and how it's said
- Increasing empathy and trust
- Overcoming anxiety<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.