As a professional speaking expert, I have spent countless hours researching, analysing, writing, and coaching presentations. And one question that I often get asked is, "how can I make my speech more memorable for my audience?" After all, all the effort, time and nerves put into preparing a presentation, should be worth it if the audience retains at least some of the key points.
Unfortunately, research shows that on average, audiences only retain 10-30% of what they hear in a speech. But the good news is, there are ways to improve this retention rate.
One of the most effective ways to increase retention is to incorporate classic stories with heroes, villains, conflict, and resolution. These types of stories are much more likely to be remembered than dry facts and statistics. However, to make the story even more effective, make sure the characters have something at stake, and are fighting for something basic, like their lives.
Another powerful technique is to take short breaks. Breaks, even of less than 10 seconds, can help to restore some energy and increase retention. For very demanding cognitive tasks, a break of 10 minutes or more may be needed. But, finding the right length of break that works best for you, is key.
Surprising your audience can also greatly improve retention. Surprises activate the whole brain and wake up the hippocampus, an area of the brain crucial for memory. So, try to include something unexpected in your speech to keep your audience engaged and awake.
Relating your message to your audience specifically is also important. If your audience can understand how the information relates to them, they are more likely to remember it. So, get your audience to imagine acting out the information, this can increase retention by as much as triple.
Another effective technique is to get your audience to draw a picture of what they heard. Scribbling a picture, even if it's not well drawn, can greatly improve retention. Quality doesn't matter, so encourage your audience to not stress over perfection, and just scribble something that acts as a note for each participant.
Finally, getting your audience to move is also a powerful technique. Physical motion helps encode thought in memory. Simple physical activities like climbing a tree, walking around obstacles, balancing or even yoga can improve retention by 50%.
In conclusion, by incorporating these techniques into your speeches and presentations, you can greatly increase your audience's retention rate. It may require a bit of extra effort, but the results will be well worth it. Remember, the key is to make your speech memorable, so that the audience retains at least half of what you say, for a long time.
Presentation Skills Coach