What do Jeff Foxworthy & Ronald Reagan…

Foundational Phrase2

… Larry the Cable Guy, John Kennedy, Rodney Dangerfield, Johnnie Cochran, and Martin Luther King have in common?

Foundational phrases! Short, memorable phrases that sum up the core of a presentation and upon which talks are built.

Since our brains tend to remember a few consecutive words that paint a memorable picture, make your phrase pithy and picturesque. Say it early and repeat it at least a few times during your speech. Make it more memorable: pause for a beat or two before and after you say your phrase. Then add texture and complexity by emphasizing different words and varying the cadence and tone each time you repeat it. If appropriate, you might make it the last words out of your mouth at the end of your talk.

Here are four famous foundational phrases from speeches:

  • Martin Luther King had a foundational phrase in his “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • Ronald Reagan did too with “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
  • John Kennedy had “Ask not what you country can do for you …”
  • Attorney Johnnie Cochran summed up a 12 week trial by repeating the phrase with “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Some comedians have defined their stage persona with a foundational phrase, and they repeat it in virtually every performance:

  • Jeff Foxworthy: “You might be a redneck.”
  • Rodney Dangerfield: “I get no respect.”
  • Larry the Cable Guy: “Git’er Done.”

Then there’s me. I did it at the Million Dollar Round Table with “People Need Your Advice.”

Join me at The Speaking Intensive to uncover and build your foundational phrases. Presenters from United Technologies, Mass Mutual & MFS and 40 other firms already have. Now it’s your turn. The May session is sold out. Catch the early registration discount for the July and September sessions!

Alan Parisse

Hall of Fame speaker Alan Parisse has been coaching presenters and delivering keynotes for over 25 years. Named “One of the Top 21 Speakers for the 21st Century” by Successful Meetings Magazine, he is a keynote speaker for a wide variety of industries and organizations. Alan is a passionate presentation coach to executives, financial advisors, sports stars and sales presenters.