Do your Sound Bites have Substance?

I’ve just finished travelling around the country on an Association of Financial Advisers Roadshow with the inspiring Peita Diamantidis who reminded me that our sound bites need to be tweetable to get the maximum value.

We’re talking sound bites in speeches. Small memorable phrases that are designed to reflect your key message. The sort of thing that we can’t get out of our heads – and if we wanted our audience to remember one thing – it would be the sound bite.

Think –

Barack Obama Yes We Can Simon Sinek (TED) Start with Why Dead Poets Society Seize the Day Star Wars May the Force be with You Anonymous A picture is worth a thousand words

My secret guiding light, Buzz Lightyear, has a soundbite – To Infinity and Beyond! And every time I feel hesitant about a new initiative or something I want to try he is in my head in his save the world voice telling me to go for it.

You’ll notice great public speakers allow their sound bites to land at several points in a speech but they don’t overdo it. It can sound like oversell and you’ll lose the impact.

Clever sounds bites allow your audience not only to recall your message but enable them to repeat it.

When crafting yours, consider these points.

Know your intent. What is the message you need to stick?

Make it brief. The best ones are 3 words only but you can use up to 12. The main thing is that it brings people back to your key message.

Create action around it. Some really sticky sound bites start with a verb to stimulate thought to lead to action.

Analogies work well and paint vivid pictures – Life is like a beautiful melody, only the lyrics are messed up.

Famous quotes are good – Seize the Day, and even cliché’s – Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Rhetorical questions prompt thought – What will you do?

Repetition works a treat for longer, more melodic sound bites – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Make sure the phrase reflects your personality. Don’t have a dramatic shout it from the mountain top type of phrase if you’re a carefully structured person. You must be able to deliver with authenticity.

I often hear business speakers say to me they wing it and they’ll just chuck a few of these words in. Too loose people! Practice your sound bites.

Is the delivery casual or almost biblical? Which words need to be emphasised? Soft or landing with a thump?

Get it right and you’ve added a very powerful tool to your presentations.

Lynne Schinella is a conference speaker, speaker coach, and author of Bite Me! and other do’s and don’ts of dealing with our differences.

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