Becoming a remarkable speaker: Simplicity, messaging vehicles, and pacing

For those who are about to speak, there are simple hacks to land a memorable speech - Liam Fitzpatrick, head of communications at Commswork, explains how.

As Mumbrella 360 started today, I wanted to share some shortcuts I’ve picked up from the best and worst speakers I’ve seen over the past two decades, what separates them, and the essential tactics all good communicators practice.


Seth Godin details how to spread ideas; sell to those who are obsessed about your view/product and give them the help required to promote it. We can do this by understanding that most of us won’t notice something unless it’s different, or remarkable in some way.

Remarkable speakers use this in presentations, not just by having compelling ideas, but delivering them in a noteworthy way. Make your points, nice, different, unusual.

Demonstrate credentials

No matter how much executive profiling you’ve had, not everyone will know you or understand your background so give a little. Why are you the right person to talk on this topic?

If you have unique experience or research, let’s hear it.

If you have a contrarian perspective, voice it.

If you’ve written a book on a related topic, offer your best pull-quote.

Biases, sure we all have them. Ensure you’re sufficiently self reflective to understand yours, and transparent enough to share. Be generous with your knowledge and appreciative of the attention you’re asking for in return.

Paint an auditory picture

Our brains are hardwired to remember stories. They don’t need to be complicated. I love the simplicity with which storytelling specialists Anecdote explain it: A story is a set of events linked together in a way that explains what happened or what could happen. We all have them, so be more memorable by sharing some of yours.

Along the lines of I experienced ‘Z’, changed Y, and got this X-cellent result.

Bragging about the milestones achieved of your latest campaign, without revealing any takeaways others can use in their business, is grandstanding. Save it for your case study folder.

Landing it best

There is power…in a pause. So use it wisely.

I’m yet to meet two people that can agree on what is accepted marketingspeak or reach a consensus on what constitutes jargon for their industry. Avoiding both will leave you with a more valued and accurate vocabulary.

George Orwell is not the only person to recommend this however he is the most famous (therefore memorable). Never use a long word when a simple one will do.

Only 3 out of 10 attendees are likely to be auditory learners. Meaning that you’ll need to speak slower when explaining complex topics. Pacing is a gift which can deliver different results. JFK slowed his inaugural address down to 96.5 words per minute in order to be understood – and yet has the Guinness world record for 327 words per minute for another 1961 rallying speech. Ensure you’re varying your sentence length and tone, to remain sounding human and less like an automated thesaurus on loop.

Using metaphors and similes to simplify, can show a command of concepts, while leaving a vivid and memorable impression in the minds of your audience. {Insert specialist topic} is a leaky bucket within media because…

Marketers in the audience at Mumbrella360

Be interesting and interested

A lot of panellists tend to look bored when they’re not talking. Counting down the seconds until they can next speak. Instead try to appear interested in others’ viewpoints, you may learn something, and it will make the panel photographer’s life a lot easier.

If statistics can prove anything, and 95% are made up, then 68% of your audience will have stopped listening to you three minutes ago. Offering a proof point is valid, but limit stats to one or two over the whole presentation.

And again references can be great; adding context and getting the neural pathways firing. Left-field movie/TV quotations though are going to get lost quicker than a Jason Statham plot line.

Cut the cliches

And remember, at the end of the day, we’re at the coalface, the pointy end, it’s going to be down to the wire, so heads down bums up, as cliches are the refuge of those too lazy for self-contemplation.

Understand your position on a topic, and relevant context, enough to be able to explain it: like I’m five/down the pub/to your mum (delete as appropriate). Activate your mind, and bully your creativity into inspiring others.


Lastly, the recency and latency effect means you should start and end your comments with your strongest points. Hold the gold…as PR people love to say.


Once you understand all of these you’ll know when to break them 🙂


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