“One sign of an excellent speech? ‘Can people repeat something they heard, word for word?'” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech was an instant classic.

Why?

It’s original, evocative and revealing.

Gaiman confesses that he ignored the wise advice from fellow author Stephen King to “enjoy the ride of his success.”

However, there’s an even more important reason Gaiman’s 20 minute talk has gone viral and been turned into a book which is coming out next week.

The popular author condensed his speech theme into a single sound-bite that is easy to repeat.

Make Good Art.

Think about it.

How many conventions and graduations have you attended? How many presenters and commencement speakers have you heard? Dozens? Hundreds?

Can you repeat ANYTHING they said?

If you can’t; that means they’re out of sight, out of mind. Their message had little or no enduring impact.

What’s an important message you want to share with the world?

If you want people to remember it and act on it; is YOUR responsibility to distill its essence into a repeatable sound-bite.

Successful film-makers know the importance of this.

“Show me the money.” “I’ll be back.” “You can’t handle the truth.” “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

You probably remember those movies even though it’s been YEARS since you’ve seen Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson and Roy Scheder utter those lines in the movies Jerry Maguire, the Terminator, A Few Good Men and Jaws.

Those movies are STILL top-of-mind decades after their release because their screenwriters crafted memorable lines that have legs.

In fact, check out the top movie quotes of all time. Almost ALL are 7 words or less.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI’s_100_Years…100_Movie_Quotes

What’s this mean for you?

Look over your upcoming presentation.

Does it have a resounding idea that has been distilled into a pithy 7 words or less?

Have you condensed your theme into a title or sound-bite people can repeat, word for word?

If so, good for you. You have just increased the likelihood listeners will become YOUR word-of-mouth advertisers because they will be able to remember what you said and recommend it to others.

If not, you might want to pick up a copy of POP! and study Section IV on how to be PITHY with its chapters on:

* Make Your Language Lyrical with Alliteration
* Put Your Sound-bite in a Beat to Make it Easy to Repeat
* Make it Sublime with Rhyme

This is not petty. You’re pouring hours (and lots of money?) into designing and delivering a presentation that will hopefully impact everyone in the room.

Why not invest the time and mind to POP! your message into a memorable sound-bite so people are still being positively impacted by it … years after they’re out of the room?

http://www.amazon.com/POP-Create-Perfect-Tagline-Anything/dp/0399533613/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368223741&sr=1-1&keywords=sam+horn+pop

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“In influencing others; example is not the main thing.  It’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Agreed.

What’s a situation coming up in which you want to influence someone to give you their time, mind or dime?

If you want to capture and keep their attention – if you want to open their mind and change their mind  – don’t open with information.

Open with an example.

In fact, follow Dr. Brene’ Brown’s shining example …

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Brene’ Brown at a recent Leadership Colloquium at NASA Goddard.

Brene’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability is one of the top ten most-downloaded TED videos.

After the first 10 minutes of her NASA presentation, it’s easy to understand why.

She’s disarmingly honest about her journey from being a left-brained researcher who only valued bottom-line facts to discovering the transcendent, whole-hearted, free-flowing love that comes from having children.

What she didn’t anticipate was the fear that comes from being a mom.

She described how she used to stand in her kids’ rooms at night and watch them sleep … and weep.

Why?

She cherished them so much, she was afraid something would happen to them.

She knew this was illogical. They were perfectly healthy, perfectly fine.  Yet there she was … miserable.

She started researching why the emotion of happiness seems to be irrevocably tied with fear – and used an EXAMPLE to open our eyes to how common this phenomenon is.

A family is driving to their grandparents’s house for Christmas.  The parents are uptight because they’re running late.

The kids, sitting in the back seat, start singing Jingle Bells .

The parents realize how ridiculous they’re being and start singing Jingle Bells along with them.

At this point, Brene’ asked the audience, “And then what happened?”

Guess what the majority said??

“They get in a car accident.”

Is that what you thought?

Do you know what that means?

It means, deep down, you believe happiness is fleeting – you believe it is too good to be true.

How about you?  In the midst of things going well, are you, at some level, waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Arrgghh.

Say it ain’t so.

Brene’ went on to explain that, in an effort to protect ourselves against the pain we feel when something goes wrong  … we prepare ourselves by projecting it so we won’t be blindsided when the heartache happens.

Not only does that cut short any joy we might be feeling, that “failure forecasting” increases the likelihood of something going wrong because that’s what we’re focused on.  Then, if something does go wrong, it reinforces our worst fears and proves us “right.” This sets up an emotionally unhealthy spiral where we have even more cause to worry.

Brene’ continued with constructive ways to change this destructive default … if we choose.

Okay, what’s the point?

Look back over this post.

Were you engaged?  Were you thinking about that insight that some people are afraid of happiness – and thinking how it relates to you?

That’s because Brene’s EXAMPLE pulled you in and helped you SEE this situation.

If Brene (or I) had just talked about how some of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop – even when things are going well – that would have been wah-wah rhetoric.  You may not have related to it because it was information.

People today are suffering from InfoBesity.  They don’t want more information.

They can get all the information they want – anytime they want – online for the click of a button.

People want to be intrigued.

And one of the best ways to intrigue people is with EXAMPLES – not information.

Back to your upcoming situation where you’ll be trying to persuade someone to give you their valuable time, attention, respect, business, account or funding.

Don’t start with information.  Start with a real-life example that helps them SEE what you’re saying so they’re experiencing it – not just hearing it.

Be sure to check out Dr. Brene Brown’s website and blog.  Her insights on how we can be wholehearted – instead of going through life half-hearted because we’re protecting ourselves from pain – are brilliant.  http://www.brenebrown.com/