Monday, September 21, 2015

Fundamental Phrases Pay for Professional Speakers

Radio stations used to offer listeners opportunities to win prizes by calling in the “phrase that pays.”

Maybe they still do but I don’t listen much to traditional radio anymore.

But, power phrases will pay dividends when speaking to audiences. Here are some examples:
  • Over 50-years ago in his inaugural address President John F. Kennedy left a legacy with, “Ask not what your country can for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
  • Marshall Goldsmith, executive coach to the world's top CEOs, wrote a book titled, “What You Here, Won’t Get You There!”
  • Eighty-two years ago President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural address included the memorable phrase, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Attorney Johnny Cochran in defending O.J. Simpson in the 1990s murder trial told the jury when evaluating a hand glove as a piece of evidence, “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

But, powerful phrases need not be reserved for presidents or famous authors and attorneys.

Anyone speaking can create phrases audience members can remember and use for inspiration, aspiration and motivation.

For a recent keynote address I created the following fundamental phrases to reinforce key points I wanted audience members to remember from my talk: 
  • “How you pitch it, determines how you connect!” (to reinforce the importance of being a more conscious communicator to exert positive influence)
  • “Knowing your stuff is not enough!” (to encourage sales people to understand and articulate the financial impact their products can have for customers, instead of just speaking about product features to make a sale)
  • “Relationship are the fuel that drive future results!” (to reinforce the point that building deep relationships are vital for long-term success and happiness in life
For your speeches look to create fundamental phrases like these above that reinforce the points you want to make, and most importantly the key points you want your audience members to remember. 

Here are some tips to create them:
1) Connect them to your speech’s key points. Each key point should have a phrase that ties in down. 
2) Keep it under 10 words. The fewer words the more powerful they will be. 
3) Give them rhythm. Use alliteration, rhyme and contrasting points.


Fundamental phrases are not easy to create. They take time to brainstorm, to tweak, to test and refine.

But, investing the time in creating your fundamental phrases is well worth it.

When you get one right, it’s like magic and your audiences will start reciting them back to you.

Have fun. When you get one leave a comment with it below as inspiration for others!

Skip Weisman is The Workplace Communication Expert and a member of an elite group of international World Class Speaking Coaches.

Skip works with aspiring speakers to improve their presentation skills and programs around content, organization and delivery, while also working with the owners and CEOs of small businesses with between 6-60 employees to improve communication in the workplace.

The work Skip does with his small business clients can transform work environments in as little as 90-days to create a championhip company cultures that are more positive, more productive and even more profitable.

For more tips on making your speeches even more dynamic go to


  1. I especially like the three tips on creating fundamental phrases--very useful.

  2. Thanks, Jeannie, I'm please you found value in my post. What's one of your fundamental phrases? Have you been able to create any yet?