Use your words well and your presentation will be remembered

By Eddie Darroch, Toastmasters International 

When you’re talking about your business you want your words to be remembered. You also want to stand out from the crowd of other presenters. To put it another way you want potential customers to remember you and why your product or service is of value.   How we use our words in a presentation has a huge impact on how memorable it is. Luckily there are many verbal tools we can use that we will help our audience remember what is said.  They will also help you remember what you want to say!

Here are some verbal tools for you to use.

Engage all the senses

The visual

The more visual imagery contained in your speech or presentation, the more memorable it becomes. Take the following example: ‘‘A fox with glasses told his submarine to dive beneath the surface’’.  You can increase the impact by adding extra detail – perhaps the fox is white.  Such use of vivid imagery helps to create more powerful memories for your audience.

The Auditory

Sound can act both as a tool in its own right but also as a reinforcement. When you describe a ‘crashing cymbal’ or a ‘crack of thunder’ the audience is automatically given an image as well as adding a sense of drama to your speech.

Symbolism related to sound can trigger powerful associations for audiences.  Mentioning the skirl of the bagpipes at a Remembrance Day parade may bring to mind the ‘devils in skirts’, the famous nickname given to the Highland regiments due to their ferocious fighting during WW1 by the German soldiers.


If you run your fingers over an object, what feeling do you experience? Can what you’re describing be thought of as smooth, rough or perhaps sharp?

Taste and smell

Think of any restaurant menu and the highly descriptive choice of words like crafted, fire-roasted or hand-dived, all of which are designed to activate your taste buds, enticing you to buy.  It is no different to persuading your audience to believe in what you’re saying.

Invoking aromas can produce impressive reactions; take for example wine descriptions on a menu, ‘Peppery’, ‘Fruity’ or a ‘hint of leather’. These spark mental associations in the same way as perfumes being described as floral, musky or woody. Your ability to link language to senses invokes strong memories.

Word Hacks 

‘Word hacks’ are word magic tricks that can dazzle your audience.

Here’s a favourite example of mine: ‘Mocha is not my cup of tea’. This  is mildly amusing wordplay but when you discover that it refers to a horse named Mocha and the remark is being made by a nervous rider the meaning resonates more deeply.

In ancient Greece and Rome people placed great emphasis on oratory, developing a raft of techniques which are still in use today.

Lists of Three

An effective, simple and easily remembered tip is to employ the Tricolon; epitomised most famously by Julius Caesar. Veni. Vidi.Vici.  I came. I saw.  I conquered.


A highly effective communicator like Barack Obama also employed rhetorical skills, his weapon of choice being Epistrophe – ending successive points with the same phrase – who could forget the simple yet strident statement ‘Yes we can’?

Mirror Imaging

Then we move on to Chiasmus, a mirroring imaging of word order. There’s President John F Kennedy, who at his inauguration said, ‘My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country’.  One of the most memorable statements of all time.


Short Action Statements

‘Drain the swamp’, ‘Build the wall’ are all three-word combinations which rolls off the tongue easily and delivers a powerful message to the listener.  They are short, punchy action statements. Donald Trump used these to great effect.


Using the same sound or letter at the start of a word – makes your speech both memorable and easy to memorise though you have to be careful not to give yourself something that is easy to read but difficult to say.

Here is an example I found in The Economist. The article about eating rabbit and has two alliterations one after the other. The first was ‘Lapping up lapin’ which is reasonably simple to say and to remember. The second was:   ‘But the hutch-based solution that Mr Maduro has hatched has run into a hitch’. The second might need practice and verbal dexterity from a confident speaker to deliver the full comic effect.

So use these tools and tips and make remembering you and what you said as easy as possible for your audience.   These tools should be used by everyone who has an important message that they want to get across.  Practice consciously using these tips and you’ll soon find start coming naturally to you.  Punchy and powerful phrases will spring to mind as you craft your presentations and speeches.


Eddie Darroch is from Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club: www.toastmasters.org  Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.


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