1. Compare your message to something or someone familiar
- A Cuban, after apologizing because he could not offer his guests anything to eat, described the results of Castro’s Revolution: “The three successes were education, healthcare and sports. Three failures were breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
- “I call architecture frozen music.” ~ Johann Wolfgag von Goethe
2. Evoke a vivid, mental picture
“Ten times as much funding is devoted to research on the prevention of male baldness as malaria, a disease that kills more than one million people each year.”
~ Bill Gates on the need for creative capitalism to serve more people.
3. Say it briefly so it can be easily remembered and repeated as you said it.
“We can bail out the economy – we cannot bail out the environment.” ~ John Doerr, partner, Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers
4. Make it aspirational – compare to something they want to gain – or avoid
- Jenny Kruger finds out that even the finest four-star restaurant is no match for one with 4 million stars.” ~ REI advertisement
What are some of your favorite characterizations?
I can’t help but end with two inadvertently humorous characterizations of situations. While others probably repeated what they said, it is probably to their chagrin.
- “Those who are not imprisoned are often arrested for possession of small quantities of drugs and later released — in some cases with a permanent stain on their records that can make it difficult to get a job or start a young person on a path to future arrests.” ~ An unnamed prison reform advocate.