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What you can learn from Bono – How to craft and repeat short, memorable messages

Bono is the master of crafting a short message that he repeats to drive his message home.

The benefit of a short key message is – it helps you deliver the message powerfully.

Another benefit of a short key message is – it helps your audience remember your message.

Another benefit is – it helps your audience repeat you message and spread your message.

You deliver better. Your audience remembers better. Your audience repeats and spreads your message better.

Short, memorable message + repeated 3 times = BETTER!

Bono is also a master of harnessing the power of 3s.

He will repeat the message 3 times (sometimes with minor variations)

His favourite  smart message structure is:

This is not A — (a pause for us to think well what is it?) – this is B.

For example: from his Prayer Breakfast speech

(You can check out the video and text through the link at the end of the post)

His message is “that’s not charity – that’s a justice issue” See how he uses the power of 3s – also known in rhetoric as the tricolon.

Also, see how he subtly varies the message so it sounds strong and structured – yet conversational.

“Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market, that’s not charity: That’s a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents, that’s not charity: That’s a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents, well that’s not charity. To me, that’s a justice issue.”

Here’s another example from his Commencement Speech to Penn State of the key message repeated 3 times in Bono’s favourite “Not A — B” structure. (Once again, link  to video at the end of this post)

“Seven thousand Africans dying every day of preventable, treatable disease like AIDS? That’s not a cause — that’s an emergency. And when the disease gets out of control because most of the population live on less than a dollar a day? That’s not a cause — that’s an emergency. And when resentment builds because of unfair trade rules and the burden of unfair debts, that are debts by the way that keep Africans poor? That’s not a cause — that’s an emergency”.

 

Watch the video to see how this structure helps Bono deliver the message and you can’t help but remember the essence of his message and the sense of urgency. This is not just another cause!

Bono was heavily inspired by MLK and the famous “I Have a Dream Speech”. Did you know the speech wasn’t originally called that – but because those words were repeated 9 times – it became popularly known as the “I Have a Dream speech”. (Repeated 9 times – 8 straight, 1 with minor variation “I still have a dream” before he launches into the 8)

How you can craft a memorable key message.

So, all very good – MLK does it, Bono does it, Obama does it – how can YOU craft a key message you drive home 3 times?

Of course three times works well – but you can use more than three! MLK – I Have a Dream 9 times!

Remember the earlier post about the power of words to move people  and the example of the person from an organisation that helped people be better parents? She painted a very sad picture of a dysfunctional house using the power of sensory language – what it looked like, sounded like and smelt like.

Here’s a link. IT’s the previous post – How to move people with your words

 

http://wp.me/s2rGLh-20

As well as adding sensory language, we also distilled a Bono-style key message. I gave the participant the only video of her amazing presentation I’m paraphrasing here from what sticks in my mind. It still sticks years after.

The message was along the lines of:

“They want to be better parents – they just don’t know how. We help them be better parents.”

So the speaker would use sensory language to describe – to “paint a picture of the pain or problem” then repeat that key message about how the organisation help people be better parents.

“They want to be better parents – they just don’t know how. We help them be better parents.”

From now on, I will try to keep a copy of outstanding presentations that are made better by using some of these techniques Bono uses. With the participant’s permission, I plan to share the videos in latter posts.

To wrap up:

The benefit of a short key message is – it helps you deliver the message powerfully.

Another benefit of a short key message is – it helps your audience remember your message.

Another benefit is – it helps your audience repeat your message and spread your message.

Links:

Bono Prayer Breakfast

bononationalprayerbreakfast.htm

bononationalprayerbreakfast.htm

Bono Commencement Speech Penn State: (around 13:43)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erLem1Zijmo

The power of tricolons – the magic of the power of 3s

http://grammar.about.com/od/rhetoricstyle/a/tricolon3.htm

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