• “Bank fees are like financial wedgies.”• “One of the founding fathers of rock and roll has left the building he helped construct.”• “Eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables.”Guess which of those colorful one-liners you’re most likely to remember – and repeat to others? Here’s hints for honing your quotability, but first a few more pithy examples.”Darlings, make blogs, not war.” That’s Adrianna Huffington’s 2007 acceptance speech at the Webby awards. Winners are limited to five words.Asked to write a six-word short story, Ernest Hemingway gave us, “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” Recently, Wired asked sci-fi writers for stories. Life’s too short for long speeches, quickly forgotten, J.K. Rowling told Harvard. In a time-starved world, brevity becomes popular. Here’s some six-word autobiographies, from the conversation-starter of a book, Not Quite What I Was Planning:“Changing mind postponed demise by decades.“Asked to quiet down; spoke louder.”- Wendy Lee“Well, I thought it was funny.”- Stephen ColbertDan Pink asked for six-word memoirs for the career advisor, his comic hero, Johnny Bunko. Here’s two:”Life isn’t a multiple choice test.””Followed the rules; wish I hadn’t.”Some of my favorite, brief classics: “No great thing is created suddenly” (Epictetus), “Love makes the world go round”, “You can’t direct the wind but you can adjust your sails.”Now, to be more frequently-quoted, here’s five tips, starting with brevity.1. Be brief“Bidding starts at 99 cents” announced Meg Whitman when accepting a Webby for eBay.Calvin Coolidge ( “Silent Cal”), was confronted by a woman at a White House dinner who exclaimed, “I bet my husband five dollars that I could get you to say more than three words.” He replied, “You lost.”Brevity forces you to choose your main point. The fewer the words the more clear and compelling your meaning can become. Skip the distracting underbrush of opening qualifiers and boring background. Offer your best upfront. Then, as Renée Zellweger’s character famously interrupted the courting Tom Cruise, (in the movie, Jerry Maguire) to say, “Shut up … just shut up. You had me at hello.”Yes, brevity can be tender or blunt, but never boring. “Silent Cal” – Calvin Coolidge, was confronted by a woman at a White House dinner who exclaimed, “I bet my husband five dollars that I could get you to say more than three words.” He replied, “You lost.”2. Get specificSpecificity demonstrates accountability and thus create credibility. Which statement would you remember?• We put our members first.• For your convenience, we’re staying open on Saturdays.The specific detail proves a general conclusion, not the reverse.3. Provide mental pictures from the physical world.“I still make coffee for two.”- Zak NelsonIf you knew nothing about either company, it is likely that you’d find Apple easier to recall than Intel, for example.In descending order of memorability, notice this:• blue• ocean blue• Mediterranean blue4. Make unexpected comparisonsBank fees are like financial wedgies.5. Evoke humorAccepting his 2007 Webby award, Al Gore said, “Please don’t recount this vote.”Use Brevity to Make Life More Meaningful and Memorable, Two Tips1. Start a one-sentence diary, as Gretchen Rubin suggests. No matter how overwhelmed you get, you can take the time to capture a moment. Akin to noticing more when you carry a camera on an outing, knowing you will be writing about “my day” makes you more present during it. Less chance, perhaps, that your days will be forgotten, carved in sand.2. From billboards to retorts and headlines, notice the one-liners that stick in your mind, as you go about your day. Why did you remember them? Probably for one or both of these reasons:• Innately vivid, perhaps evoking one of the five elements above.• Relates to something that matters to you, either an upsetting or uplifting.Through this exercise you’ll become aware of the power inherent in vivid brevity – and what’s on your mind as certain messages you see stick out.For more ideas on becoming top-of-mind, drop in and say hello at the international conference of IABC where I am speaking this month.
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