How to Use Verbatim Repetition in Innovative Presentations

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Purposely — and purposefully — using the same phrase or term numerous times throughout your innovative presentation emphasizes your talk’s point.In political, social, or other types of speeches designed to arouse, provoke, or galvanize an audience, repetition of key emotionally charged phrases can be deeply effective. Speech coaches cite Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech as the quintessential example evocative repetition.

However, repetition of this nature works only because of the established emotional nature of an issue. Such techniques in general business, sales, or marketing have the opposite effect — turning off people — if not approached ever so carefully.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave a speech where he advocated a certain defined position. His persuasive strategy was to tell the viewing audience the hard evidence supporting his point. He stated the evidence, paused, then said, “Facts are stubborn things,” paused again, and stated his next key fact or statistic, following each with “facts are stubborn things.”

Combined with President Reagan’s great delivery, the repetition of “facts are stubborn things” stuck in people’s minds because it was a perfectly timed, captivating, and convincing technique used for emphasis in his argument.

When using a theme in your presentation, repeating it several times at just the right times to stress your message is a good tactic.

For example, a chief financial officer (CFO) proposes a major capital investment for her firm at an executive presentation. Her briefing involves four important aspects of justifying the costly investment in building a new advanced research and development facility that would enable the development of radically innovative products.

After covering the details and attractive aspects of each financial criteria related to the decision to move ahead, she pauses, raises her voice and says “Excellent ROI Squared” a term she coined (and defined to the group) meaning “Excellent Return on Invested Innovation.” She finds the balance to slam the point home without going overboard or entering the wearout zone.

A specialty financial firm looks to entice wealthy personal investors to buy into the a small island development called Crabb Cay in the Bahamas. The main presenter develops a creative strategy and theme around location that focuses on the attractiveness of this island for investment purposes.

In her introduction, she says, “Ladies and gentleman, you have, of course, heard the number one rule in real estate, ‘Location, location, location.’ That mantra applies to Crabb Cay as you will see throughout our presentation. You’ll appreciate how those three aspects of the location of this beautiful, untouched island, when magnificently developed, will lend itself to an investment that will give you a superb return for years to come.”

After fully describing this aspect of the island, the presenter pauses and says with increased voice volume and energy, “Beautiful location!” as she also puts up a slide with just that word location on it.

She then talks about the proximity of the island to other developed islands a short boat ride away and discusses the dining and entertainment amenities, water sports, and conveniences on large, nearby islands. Again, she pauses and vocally emphasizes “Conveniences location!” along with a slide of the word on it.

As she continues, she discusses the geographical location of the tropical paradise island as a relatively short flight from major populated cities. As she finishes this part, she repeats “Getaway location” with the word slide shown.

She repeats the word “location” in about ten-minute intervals, so it’s not overdone. The slide with the single word nicely reinforces the vocal repetition. As she concludes the presentation with a strong, compelling summary of the details and benefits of investing in the development of Crabb Cay, she says, “Your investment is guaranteed because of three most important aspects of location, location, location!” The verbatim repetition creates a persuasive effect.