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The First and Last Things in Your Speech

Memorable for All the Right Reasons


Primacy and Recency

People most remember the first thing you say - primacy and the last thing you close with - recency. So assuming you want people to recall your words of wisdom, ensure that you open and close with powerful attention grabbing and audience serving statements. 

Armed with this knowledge, create an attention grabbing introduction. Now you understand a little of the psychology of persuasion, never be tempted to open with:

  1. A thank you to the organisation
  2. The history of your company
  3. Your personal background

Why? Because typicallu all three are boring and do not serve your audience. You have been selected to speak in order to inform, enlighten and entertain.

Because of the primacy effect. the first thing presented makes a huge impression which is often hard to override. (You know the familiar adage; you only get one chance to make a first impression.) Check and double check that your opening statements are true and ‘on message’. If what you state in your opening is not correct, and you change it later in your talk, many people will remember your first statement.

Of the two, the closing (recency) effect carries more weight for your presentation than the primacy effect because the last thing the audience hears and experiences, is the first thing they’ll remember! Therefore work to make it fantastic, amazing and quite simply outstanding! Ideally stand-out with a close to action!

I encourage my clients to think and act like a rockstar; when rockstars build the song-list for an event they open with one of their very popular chart singles and close with their greatest hit. We can learn from these powerful entertainers and do the same.

Be a Rockstar!  

Sing Your Greatest Hit!

Watching the BBC news the other day, the head of a high-street business was being interviewed. He gave a good account of how his business was coping with tough times. Then the interviewer gave him a wonderful chance to nail his message; "Thank you. In the few seconds we have left, is there anything you'd like to add?" I waited, eagerly anticipating his golden sound bite. ", I think that's it. Thank you!" was his response. I could not believer his ineptitude! This was his recency moment! What a missed opportunity to sing his great hit!

You should always have a sound bite handy for exactly that situation. It's a golden opportunity to leave the listener with something cleverly crafted. Sadly this man is memorable to me for all the wrong reasons! 

Save Your Best to Last!

If you don't have a core message, you shouldn't be doing the interview or giving a speech. It doesn't matter what you are asked, your job is to make sure that message gets across, ideally three times, and most definitely in your last statement.  Save your best until last, and deliver a precise, memorable phrase that you want the audience to recall long after the event is over.  

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