Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Make Your Speech the Soundtrack of Their Lives

John Williams

The Sound of Music
Star Wars
Superman the Movie
Jurassic Park
Harry Potter

Could you hear the music from any or all of those movies in your mind after reading the title? Can you now? Sorry if I've put Rodgers & Hammerstein or John Williams in your head for the rest of the day. Even as I write this, I'm listening to my 'Movie Soundtrack' station on Pandora.

Music has way of embedding itself in our memories, and connecting to our life experiences. The song that played when you met your spouse, that you may have again played at your wedding. The music you use while you work out, while you study, while you write. I even used music to memorize the Periodic Table.

Music stays with us because it repeats, because it often has a simple beat or lyric refrain, and because it connects with us emotionally.

What if your speech could do the same thing? If you could embed your stories and points in your audiences brain so that it became part of the Soundtrack of their Lives?

I'm not talking specifically about music, though some top speakers intro and outro their speaking engagement with theme music.

No, YOUR speech soundtrack is your speech anchor, or series of anchors. Phrases that embody your points and your speech purpose in just a few words. Phrases that resound in your audiences heads as they leave. Phrases that, when said in a setting years later, brings back echoes of the speaker, and the ideas they passionately shared from the stage.

They are often referred to as 'Foundational Phrases', or more popularly, 'the Phrase that Pays'.

For my Toastmaster readers, the 5-7 minute format of most speeches lends itself to a single phrase, supported by 1-3 stories or examples. Ryan Avery used this method to maximum effect in his 2012 World Championship Speech, "Trust is a Must"


In a longer speech, it's possible to use more than one phrase - as long as they all build to the overall speech tone. Movies will often shift styles of music and create variations on a theme, while still pushing the story to one ultimate conclusion. Your phrases must do the same thing. If you have a memorable phrase for each 5-7 minute segment of your 45 minute keynote, you create a framework under your ultimate theme.

The phrases can be as few as two or three words, or as long as 8-10. They should indicate action, invoke emotion, and/or reflect results. Often, the most memorable phrases become short-hand for longer phrases, and ultimately branding for the speakers themselves.

See You at the Top! - Zig Ziglar
Eat That Frog! - Brian Tracy
It's Possible! - Les Brown

All memorable phrases - all both stand on their own, and as a piece of a larger speech or program. I'm sure you can think of a dozen more from your favorite speakers.

Whether you're putting on a keynote filled with inspirational stories, a workshop with more practical exercises and applications of your concepts, or just speaking for a few minutes to promote a singular point, finding your Soundtrack, your Phrase (or Phrases), will help you be a better speaker, and give your audience longer-lasting results. All of which will, as the saying states - help you get paid.

Like a great, pulse-pounding soundtrack, your speech needs to build emotion, and you must anchor your ideas in the minds and hearts of your audience with repetition, rhythm, and resonance to ensure they remember what you've said long after they leave your presentation. You want them using your phrases in their daily life, advising their peers and employees with the wisdom you've shared.

The ultimate moment, when you know you've successfully managed to Speak & Deliver, is when the Soundtrack of your speech becomes part of the Soundtrack of their lives.

What are your favorite phrases that have stayed with you from speakers over the years?


  1. Great article, never thought of that. I know that Ivan Misner's book - 7 seconds networking marketing mention how to use 7 seconds to make people remember us. This is another great post. :)

  2. This is a great blog. Music with words are easy to remember.

    1. Thanks Amanda - maybe I need to do a post on singing when you speak :)



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