How to Make a Speech Memorable

Do you know how to ensure someone remembers your speech?

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #69

Use Props to Make a Speech Memorable

So what do I remember from Ky’s presentation?

The strongest and most vivid memory I have is of her very feminine bright, bright, yellow--highlighter yellow--boots. And how they were in such contrast to her very masculine, thick black leather metal-studded belt. For me, her clothes foreshadowed and supported her theme, which was about gender identification and attractiveness. I wondered then (and I still wonder now) if she intentionally chose the boots and belt as supporting props.

Regardless, from a public speaking perspective, strong visual elements or props, like her boots and belt, make a speech more memorable. One of my favorite TED talks is from brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor, who used a brain-- a real brain with the spinal cord still attached-- as a prop in her talk. When she brings the brain out on stage, you can hear the audience reacting. That brain was not only memorable; for me it was unforgettable. (By the way, if you haven’t seen this talk, you should.)

Use Analogies to Make a Speech Memorable

So what else do I remember about Ky’s talk? I remember that she compared a dirty, scruffy, hitchhiker to a guru of enlightenment. Again, the strong contrasting images made the analogy interesting and memorable.


Making a strong connection between two otherwise dissimilar ideas can help you understand and remember.


Making a strong connection between two otherwise dissimilar ideas can help you understand and remember. Analogies are exactly that--comparisons between two things. Typically, analogies are used to explain how something known is similar to something that is not familiar. Analogies are particularly useful when you are trying to explain ideas quickly. The biggest benefit is that they make it easy to remember complex ideas. So, analogies are powerful because they’re meaningful and memorable.

End with a Key Sentence to Make a Speech Memorable

I also remember that Ky included quite a bit of dialog in her speech. As I’ve mentioned before, all good stories require dialog. (They also need characters, setting, action, and details, but I’ve covered that in a previous article). In Ky’s story, she used dialog between her and the hitchhiker, and she also included internal dialog. Internal dialog helps us to understand the speaker’s point of view, which also makes the story more memorable.

However, more importantly, Ky used dialog as her final “key” sentence. All good stories end with a short sentence that summarizes the main idea of the story. Final key sentences are important because studies show that we tend to remember the last words spoken.

In Ky’s story, she used something the hitchhiker said to her as her final key sentence. I very clearly remember the dialog; it was "Dude, you should have been a chick." I’m convinced that the uniqueness of the dialog combined with it being the final key sentence is the reason I remember it almost two weeks later.

Use Stories to Make a Speech Memorable

Finally, the story format itself made her words powerful and memorable. That’s why we as a society have used stories through history to communicate beliefs, values, and rules. Stories are how we learn from other people’s experiences. Stories are how we naturally communicate.

However, stories are even more memorable when we use vivid and unique props. They are even more memorable when we use intriguing, thought-provoking analogies and when we use a strong concluding key sentence. Congratulations, Ky, your story was memorable!

This is Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication; your success is my business.

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If you have a question, send email to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops, visit lisabmarshall.com

Speech image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.