Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about tasty soundbites

The best presenters strike a balance between being thorough and being memorable. Unfortunately as people become experts in a topic, they often throw the memorable part out the window. Or worse, they think being more thorough will automatically make their presentations memorable.

Experts don't understand that being memorable plays a major role in the effectiveness of a presentation. Your presentation is never about you — it's about your audience, always. So if aren't thinking about how to make your talk more memorable, you might as well ignore your audience altogether.

Neil deGrasse Tyson gets it. He's an expert astrophysicist who is also one of the most well known scientists in the world (especially among non-scientists) because he is extremely memorable. At a recent event at the American Museum of Natural History, he ruminated on the art of speaking in memorable soundbites.

"And I thought to myself… even though they are interviewing me in my place, it's actually for them in their place, and in their place soundbites rule. … So I said, rather than have them soundbite me, why don't I hand them soundbites? They can't edit that."

This is similar to a presentation tip put forward by Carmine Gallo in his book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. He suggests creating Twitter-friendly headlines throughout your presentation — repeatable one-sentence summaries that capture your message. In other words, soundbites. So what does a great soundbite look like?

"[A few] words that are informative, make you smile, and are so tasty you might want to tell someone else — there is the anatomy of a soundbite. And don’t think that soundbites aren’t useful if they don’t contain a curriculum. A soundbite is useful because it triggers interest in someone, who then goes and puts in the effort to learn more. … Take the moment to stimulate interest, and upon doing that you have set a learning path into motion that becomes self-driven because that soundbite was so tasty — why do you think we call them bites?"

If you are not already a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, you should be.

Source: Maria Popova on her excellent site Brain Pickings.