I heard it ‘down the pub’...

Amanda Meyrick, managing director, Clarion Communications, part of the WPP group

How many meetings have you sat through that drone on and on and on?  Speaking succinctly is an art - and the more concisely you speak, the more people will listen and remember what you say.  The king of one-liners, Mark Twain, describes a sound bite as "a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense".  Sound bites are small but powerful groups of words - and whether facts, anecdotes, one-liners or stories, they all make what you have to say memorable and therefore worth passing on. But how to create them as they don't always flow naturally? Here’s some borrowed advice from the experts: 

 1.    Contradictions - Not This But That
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".  JFK's famous quote is a contrast between two points that creates a situation which becomes memorable.  So as an example, if I wanted to stress the importance of a task to a colleague I could say, "You really need to do this job well as it will reflect on your abilities, how you are viewed by your colleagues and therefore your potential for promotion".  Or I could say, "This is not to do with what you say about your work but what your work says about you".  

2.    The Rule of Three
Our brains are wired to remember three items which is why "I came, I saw, I conquered" works so well.  So as a work place example the rather long winded and infinitely less memorable "this campaign will work across many levels and generate coverage, stimulate word of mouth and deliver sales" could be replaced by "Results, Results, Results".

3.    Disrupting Expectations
"Black is the new white".  This takes something that people believe to be the truth and turns it on its head.  So in an office environment to highlight importance I could suggest that "Google+ is the new Facebook".

These techniques can be very powerful but use them sparingly – there’s always the danger that a presentation can become a performance rather than a conversation if littered with sound bites.  However, good advice for us all in thinking about what we say and how we deliver it is ...Peel away the unnecessary to arrive at the essential.

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