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Is your speech bright, technicolor, memorable? Often people think of speeches as dull, brown, boring. Not your speeches, of course, yours are not like that.

But how do you make your speech vivid and memorable? First you write stories and anecdotes into them. You never write a point without adding – at the very least – a vivid word picture. Better still, you add an anecdote showing people in action.

Let’s say you are doing a speech about emergency preparedness. Everyone, you say, should have a ‘grab and go’ bag. It’s a good, valid point, but easy to forget in a busy life. To make it memorable you have an anecdote about the family who didn’t have a grab and go bag when the earthquake or flood hit. You show them running around trying to find the important papers, their glasses, wallet, cell phone, medications, food for a couple of days. You show them getting in each others way, falling over the dog. Oh yes! The dog! What about his food?

You show, don’t tell, the confusion that can result. It can be funny – people remember better when they laugh. But then you bring out a grab and go bag and show, don’t tell the contents.

And if you use Powerpoint, make sure to throw in a few cartoons, just to wake people up.

Description can be an attention-killer. Always add a standard of comparison, preferably with a touch of humor. If something is large, or old, ask yourself How large? How old? Then use vivid description. “No bigger than a baby’s fingernail”, “Longer than two football fields”. “Well past retirement age”, “Older than the pyramids” “Too young to drive.”

Go through your speech and insert sensory words – a color, a texture, a taste, a sound, a smell – especially a smell if you can work it in. Did you smell the coffee brewing this morning?

Go through your speech again and take out all the ‘There is/there are/ there were/it is/it was. That makes you look at your verbs and choose active verbs that bring movement to mind. That sense of movement will add life to your speech.

Sometimes you can choose your speech topic and you can choose one that is lively and vibrant. Making it colorful and memorable isn’t too difficult. Other times your topic is not yours to choose. You know you need to do a speech about greater productivity, or sales figures. Find the people who are producing or selling. Interview them and get their stories.

The personal story, yours or theirs, will bring you speech to life.

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