What makes presentations “Sticky” and Memorable?

Tease don’t tell. Before your audience will value the information you’re giving, they’ve got to want it… Most presenters take the audience’s desire for granted, but that’s a big mistake. Great presentations are mysteries, not encyclopedia entries. An online video called “The Girl Effect” starts by recounting a list of global problems: AIDS. Hunger. Poverty. War. Then, it asks, What if there was an unexpected solution to this mess? Would you even know it if you saw it? The solution isn’t the Internet. It’s not science. It’s not government. Curious? See, it works. (Go to girleffect.org for the answer.)” from Made to Stck web site under resources see Heath Brothers  

How many presentations and lectures have you heard? Probably in the thousands.  Of these presentations how many presentations how many made an impact on your behavior or drove you to act on their message?  I’ve asked my students and seminar audiences this question for many years.  Their answer is that you can count sticky and memorable speeches and presentations on one hand.  The critical question becomes—What makes some presentations “sticky” and others forgettable?

Summary ideas and themes from my audience members about “sticky” messages:

  1. The speaker has confidence and credibility, in other words executive presence—firm hand shake, good eye contact, dress, smile, sense of humor and projects a positive and natural energy that they know what they are talking about.
  2. Speakers are approachable, inspirational, and connect in unique ways–they match message to audience needs and challenge them to want more.
  3. They deliver a clear, concise, compelling, and believable message. One that rings true for listeners. They bring ideas alive through stories and practical applications of ideas.
  4. Their message is understandable, memorable and easy to repeat because they paint a mental picture for the audience.–”Sticky” Factor
  5. The message is relevant and provides opportunity for audience to challenge try out or get involved in how ideas work and benefit people.

According to a survey by Wallace and Wallechinsky in The Book of Lists, rate public speaking as the number one fear of 41% of the population, ahead of death, nuclear war, the dentist, and bankruptcy. How can you challenge your fears, identify strengths,and reinforce your natural areas of self-expression.

A key tip for overcoming these issues is when you plan a presentation consider how your topic is relevant to the audience members and what message is presented and how it might be perceived and received. Use analogies, relevant evidence based statistics and proven results.

You need to learn how to align your message, mental attitude, and mechanics, memory techniques so as not just survive a presentation, but to create an environment that is meaningful, inspirational, persuasive, and compelling for listeners.  You need to be clear on your goal for the presentation. What do you want the listeners to take away from the presentation? We know that future behavior can be improved with openness to feedback, and a plan to overcome bad habits.

Like it or not, our self-awareness, mental presence, confidence (mental state), eloquent mechanics (voice, gestures, movement, body language, eye contact), and messages (verbal impact) determine how we are received and perceived by others. Sticky presnters influence perceptions by thinking and speaking straight, confidently and in ordinary language. Leave the professional jargon and intellectual high brow stuff at home.

The Four Pillars of “Sticky” Presentations
I. Mechanics II. Mental III. Message IV. Memory
 What eloquent techniques and style is appropriate for this setting and audience? Focus is on presence and confidence  What confidence and passion need to be portrayed to connect with the audience? Focus is on inspiration.  Always chose a significant overriding objective (SOO) that best serves the setting and purpose for the presentation. Not more than seven ideas plus or minus two  Use memory techniques to enhance retention of your message Such as primacy, recency and repetition

 “Sticky Tips” for Consideration

  1. Analyze and know your audience.  Gather information on the needs and expectations of your listeners; so as to make your presentation interesting and appealing to them.  What are their expectations?  What are their attitudes toward you, your team, or your topic?
  2. Keep your Significant Overriding Objective (SOO) clearly in mind.  Is your goal to inspire, inform and present information or to persuade a committee or person to adopt and support your proposal?
  3. Formula for success –Magic # 7     Determine 3-5 chunks of information for each sub-presentation objective. And repeat them throughout the speech and in your call for action.
  4.   Get to the point.  What are the key points you will make?  How do you want to say them?  What graphics will be used i.e., flip charts, PowerPoint, or a combination?  Keep visual aids simple and to the point.  Do you have any written material, handouts or tangibles to show audience?
  5. Support major points with solid evidence.   Use examples, analogies, simulations, facts, and stories to drive home key messages.
  6. Organize and inform in a logical structure.  State the problem, then your solution.  Weigh the pros and cons of your proposal.  Go from general to specific.  Build from simple ideas to complex ones.
  7. Make you message clear, compelling, and consistent with the facts.
  8. Avoid presenting too much information or “hop scotching” around from topic to topic.  Speaking from notes or a key point outline makes the presentation smoother and more natural.
  9. Sustain comfortable eye contact with the audience members.  Use the “one thought –one person” technique.  Use natural gestures to emphasize key points.  Monitor gestures such as maintaining good posture when speaking.  Remove all keys and other materials from pockets. Lean forward while speaking.
  10. Speak so others can hear you.  Convey confidence, conviction, enthusiasm, and interest in your voice.  Vary your pitch, volume and rate of speaking.
  11. Prepare for Q/A sessions.  Practice the desired behavior and skills so that your speaking style mirrors your strengths and is experienced as authentic.
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3 thoughts on “What makes presentations “Sticky” and Memorable?”

  1. Thanks Richard for your comment as I remember the statistic comes from The Book of List 2004 that wallace and wallechinski did a few years ago. Mark

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