How To Make Great One-liners

Any message will only be remembered partly. Your public will remember the right part if your speech or presentation contains a good one-liner. A strong one-liner is like a picture: it says more than a thousands words. This post tells you how to construct and successfully deliver a great one-liner in just three steps.

A. Find your core message

A one-liner grabs the core message of your speech or presentation. Therefore, try to find out what your message really is about. What do you want to tell your public? If you were allowed to only say one sentence, which one would it be? Neil Armstrong summarized the years of effort and the great achievement of thousands of engineers and scientists in just the following sentence: “That’s one small step for a  man, one giant leap for mankind.”

B. Choose the right words

A one-liner is not remembered just because it is descriptive of your core message. In order to stick, it must be well formulated. Enhance your one-liner with repetition, alliteration or contrast. Armstrong repeats the word “man” in his famous one-liner. Voltaire uses an alliteration in “Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung”. The line “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” by Kennedy derives its strength from contrast.

C. Use an introductory sentence

A good one-liner has the greatest impact if your audience is signalled about it. Use an introductory sentence to grab the publics attention fully and emphasize that what you’re about to say, is really important. Examples of introductory sentences are “Let me come to the real problem here: … ” or “ladies and gentleman, that’s why we say: …. “.

Good luck in persuading your public with a great one-liner!

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