Audiences Will Not Remember Much!

by Stephen Boyd | March 31, 2003

We are naive if we think every audience will remember everything we say. That simply will not happen.  At best we can expect our listeners to take a point or a story with them. We can improve their chances for retention, however, by including the following techniques.

Word the point you want them to remember as specifically as you can. We remember the specific more easily than the general or vague. Develop a powerful and memorable story or case study that supports that very limited point. Summarize the point late in the presentation and use this transition as you restate the point. "Take this key point with you as you leave today. . ., " and then make the point again and perhaps even reference the story as you conclude.

Here is how this might work. The point I want the audience to take with them is "Be willing to ask for things you want in life. " My story is about artificial turf being installed in the Highlands High School football field with money contributed by various concerned citizens. A reporter asked Cris Collinsworth, former pro football star who lives in Ft. Thomas where the football field is located, why he did not give money to help the chemistry department obtain much-needed new equipment. His response: "No one asked!" Near the end I would say, "As you leave today take this point with you: to be successful in life you must be willing to ask for the things you want."

As you finish reading this, remember that in your next speech, you will express a very specific point supported by a powerful or memorable story. Then remind the audience of the point you want them to take with them. This is an effective way to insure that most people in the audience will take with them the ideas you intended to convey!

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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