Dont Let The Audience Forget You!

by Stephen Boyd | April 30, 2004

How do you distinguish yourself from other speakers so audience members will not forget you? You don’t want to blend in with other speakers so that neither your message nor you are remembered. A major way to remain unforgettable to an audience is a "hook:" something unique about you or an uncommon approach to a common subject.

For me the hook is the auction. I grew up in an auctioneer family. As a boy, I learned the auctioneer’s chant from my uncle. At weekly consignment auctions, Uncle Mark would let me conduct parts of the auction. My love for the auction continued as I began to speak regularly. I’ve been able to incorporate the auctioneer’s chant into my speeches. I use the analogy that life is an auction--that we are continually selling ourselves to people by what we say and how we say it. I wrote a poem about the auction that I often use near the end of my speech.

In addition, for clients I can conduct a charity auction with items vendors or members of their organization donate for the auction. I find that this is a good addition to the speech they have asked me to deliver. The organization advertises the auction and encourages donated items. Once at a Phoenix program, a Lute Olsen autographed basketball brought several hundred dollars from an avid University of Arizona fan. Donated items which represent a state or school or business will bring big bucks for a scholarship fund or whatever may be the favored charity of the organization. The organization for which I do the auction makes money on the auction and in the process the people remember me in a positive light.

You may not want to go to that extreme, but consider past jobs, hobbies, unique experiences, books you’ve read, places you have visited or lived, or unusual people you have met. In any of these situations there might be a hook you could draw from to make you unforgettable to your audience.

Not only do you want the audience to listen carefully while you speak, but you also want the audience members to keep thinking about you and your message long afterwards. A hook can make certain that they do exactly that.

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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