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Making Your Message Memorable

By: Steve White, U.S. Small Business Administration 

Tell your story so that people will hear you, remember you and consider you worthy of investment.


Be Loud (speak to the person who is farthest from you).

Be Proud (shoulders up, chest out, chin up and smile).

Be Succint (practice your presentation -record your practices -critique your performance - Repeat).

Research your Audience (you instinctively speak differently with toddlers than you speak with Rhodes Scholars — try to grasp the perspective of your audience).

Look people in the eye (if you’re not paying attention to me; then why should I pay attention to you?).

Speak to the Room (avoid reading from notes and do not face the presentation screen -you may keep notes on a 5x7 index card - if you need more than one card then you need more practice!).

Clearly Pronounce your Name — your Business Name — your Title and your business Location. Declare — in memorable terms — what your business does.

The following formula may prove useful:
  • Who: Tell the audience who you are (short personal bio — not a resume of credentials).
  • What: Explain what your company actually does ( we make this - we sell that...).
  • When: State how long you (not your company) have been doing ‘this.’
  • Where: Describe your company’s actual, physical location AND where customers can purchase your Product, Good or Service.
  • How: Explain how you intend to proceed (Investment, business loan, tech assistance, ….?).
  • Why: MOST IMPORTANT - passionately explain the purpose of your business (I do this, because …Show how your Product, Good or Service fulfills a need, want or desire).

Assume that you are the only person on the planet who fully understands your industry and methodology. (Fully explain the attributes of your Product, Good or Service and show how the audience AND consumers will inherently benefit!).

Enthusiastically state why you love your company! Make the audience FEEL your enthusiasm!

If you’re not a naturally gifted speaker (few of us are) then connect with one person in the audience and once you’ve established that connection - then add a second, third….

Feel free to disagree. DO NOT TAKE DISAGREEMENTS PERSONALLY! Clearly state, “That is a valid point and my company will consider your insight. Thank you for sharing that insight with me.”

ALWAYS bring your business cards (Business Cards -at a minimum -should contain your name, company name, location, website address, email address, and cell number).

Dress Appropriately for your audience. (Your 8-year-old tie tells me you’re not keeping up!) Don’t just ask someone ‘how you look.’ Tell them to ‘fix’ you. Your unkempt hair, unzipped zipper, dirty shoes, missed button or crooked name tag WILL get more attention than your message.

Affirm and Encourage questions from your audience. If you don’t know an answer, then state, “That is a great question. Thank you for asking. It needs a better answer than I can currently provide. May we trade contact information so I can share that answer with you at a later time?

You may wish to restate questions so everyone can benefit from your answer. Also, restating the question crystalizes the issue and provides your brain cells more time to accurately respond!

If your presentation includes a demonstration, try to make the demonstration interactive with your audience. Let someone from the audience participate and/or manipulate your demonstration.

ALWAYS be ready for audio-visual devices to fail. Be prepared with handouts and show how well you can adapt and overcome!

If you provide samples, bring twice as many as you think you will need.

Practice your presentation until you perfect it. People know when you’re not prepared. Your audience carved out calendar time, put up with traffic and paid for parking - be worthy of their effort!

Gage the energy level of your audience. Try not to talk past them (energy level too high) nor lull them to sleep with low energy. If you cannot gage, then default to high energy!

If you are overcome by nervousness then concentrate on connection. Connect with one member of the audience and hold a conversation with that person just as you would engage in friendly conversation. An unconnected audience is no audience at all; just a group of people who have collectively agreed to ignore you.

If you cannot do the above - then you have two options:

1) Hire someone who can do them and will represent you very well.

2) You may wish to reconsider becoming an entrepreneur.


Don’t apologize for taking too much time, asking for investment or being an imposition.

Don’t assume your audience knows anything about you, your business, your industry …. anything.

Don’t take ‘no’ or ‘not now’ for an answer. Be ready to address the ‘no’s’ and ‘not nows.’

Don’t use abbreviations or industry jargon.

Don’t use any presentation that is not specifically geared toward the audience.

Further questions concerning small business, access to capital or general commerce concerns should be addressed to steven.white@sba.gov .

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