Mnemonic Devices Come To The Aid Of Public Speakers

by drjim on October 11, 2011

Mnemonic Devices Might Look Complicated, But They Aren't…

Mnemonic Devices Might Look Complicated, But They Aren’t…

You’ve got great ideas trapped in you. You know the importance of public speaking and you want to use your speaking skills to make your audience’s lives better. The problem is that if you aren’t careful, what you say during your speech will just go in one ear and out the next. How can you make your next speech more “sticky”?

Make It Easy To Remember By Making It Fun To Remember

One of the big challenges that I run into in my ongoing quest to become as good of a speaker as Tony Robbins is that often I simply have too much to say. That is, when I’m building the speech that I want to give, it turns out that I’ve got so many individual points that I want to get across that there is no way that my audience is going to be able to remember all that I have to tell them.

This leaves me in a bit of a quandary – should I cut back on what I’m going to cover during my speech and thereby deliver less value to my audience? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the answer to this question is sometime “yes”. However, it turns out that there is another way.

There is this thing called a mnemonic device that, if used correctly, can help your audience to remember a lot more than they can all by themselves. Although “mnemonic” seems like a big word, I’m willing to bet that you’ve already encountered one of these.

The classic one in my opinion is “SMART goals”. If you’ve ever heard someone talk about these, SMART is simply a mnemonic device that people use to remember the characteristics of a good goal:

  • S pecific
  • M easurable
  • A ttainable
  • R ealistic
  • T imely

It turns out these 5 characteristics of a good goal are about two too many characteristics for most audiences to remember. The creation of the “SMART” word provides a fun and easy way for them to remember it – retention problem solved!

Turn On The Siren And The Red Flashing Light

So there you are, up in front of an audience giving your speech. Yawn. Sure, what you are saying is interesting and all that, let’s even say that you’re doing a good job in your delivery. However, you’ve got to remember that your audience has a lot of other things going on. They simply don’t have time to remember everything that you’re telling them because they’ve got so much else going on.

Hmm, looks like you’re going to have to find a way to break through that wall of “I just don’t have time to pay attention to you”. Maybe what you need to do is to turn the siren on during your speech and for good measure add in some flashing red lights.

Now, of course, you could use an actual siren and red flashing lights, but maybe there is another way that would cut down on the amount of gear that you’d need to bring to your next speech. It turns out that simply by introducing a sense of urgency into your speech, you can cause your audience to sit up and listen to you.

Creating this sense of urgency can be done in a couple of different ways. One of the easiest is to tell your audience that time is running out – they need to take action based on what you are telling them and they need to do it quickly or else the opportunity will go away. Another way is to convince them that there is a limited quantity of something that they need. If they don’t move fast based on what you are telling them, then a resource that they need will be gone and they will be unable to do it. That should get them moving!

What All Of This Means For You

The importance of public speaking is that this is one of the most effective ways that you have to communicate information to a group of people all at the same time. However, you’ll just be wasting your time if you don’t find a way to help your audience remember what you are telling them.

One fantastic way to make your points stick is to group them all together and make it fun for your audience to remember everything that you’ve said. Mnemonic devices take awhile to create, but the payoff for your audience can be huge. Another way to make sure that what you say is remembered by your audience is to create a sense of urgency and associate it with what you’ve told them. This will cause your audience to sit up and take notice of what you are telling them.

The great speakers don’t just have the ability to put the right words together in order to deliver a speech. They also have the ability to make what they are saying be memorable in a way that changes the lives of their audience forever. Use these two techniques the next time that you give a speech and watch how powerful your words become.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Is there a limit to how long a mnemonic device can be?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

You’ve got great ideas trapped in you. You know the importance of public speaking and you want to use your speaking skills to make your audience’s lives better. The problem is that if you aren’t careful, what you say during your speech will just go in one ear and out the next. How can you make your next speech more “sticky”?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John April 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Your post is excellent. I’m running a blog about mnemonic devices and you know how to teach this topic. Mnemonic devices are my passion so I’ve decided to start a blog about this. I think I will come back very soon to share more ideas.

Thank you,
John

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