How did that song get stuck in my head? The memory magic of music

This post has been updated and moved.

Catchy phrases and other memory steroids

This post has moved to http://www.stickycommunication.ca/2010/07/write-to-break-records-with-memory-steroids/

Help your readers remember–and groceries on forgotten lists

This post has moved to http://www.stickycommunication.ca/2010/07/what-was-i-supposed-to-get-write-to-help-readers-remember/

Write memory glues and cues

Whether it’s an email, presentation or blog, getting your audience to remember what you’ve communicated is like trying to place sticky notes on their brains. You want the notes to stay there long enough to leave a good impression, persuaded to buy your services or take another action. So where can you get the glue to keep your sticky notes from fluttering away in the next puff of freeze?

To help your message stick to busy multi-taskers who are continually bombarded by information, strong glue is vital. There isn’t one formula for this kind of glue. It varies with the reader or audience and the circumstances.

Here are some suggestions.

Deposit into the memory bank

  • Make sure your communication offers value and relevance to your readers or listeners. That’s how the brain prioritizes memory deposits. If you’re selling a service that will help people, demonstrate that you understand them and inspire confidence that you can help them.
  • Make sure your communication is easy to understand. Speak in your audience’s terms, not the jargon of your business or profession.
  • Give people a context in which to remember. Tell them, for example, they will want to remember this information the next time they go to write an important email or talk to a prospect.
  • Focus on what’s important and avoid the clutter.
  • Organize your information, guiding your audience with numbers, categories, acronyms, subheads or other devices.

Add grip to the glue

  • Use a strong visual to represent what you want them to remember.
  • Link what they already know to your new information.
  • Create a catchy slogan.
  • Persuade your audience to repeat your message out loud.
  • Give the audience a followup exercise to reinforce what they’ve learned.
  • Tell stories and anecdotes that play on emotions or connect different points.
  • Rhymes. Who can forget: In August 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue?
  • Sounds, as in the Windows chimes.

Retrieval cues

  • Followup communication that repeats the graphics and other cues you provided originally.
  • Emotional prompts. “I’m scared. Now what did Oprah tell me to do when that happens?”
  • Problem solving. When people encounter the problem you can solve, they will dip into the memory and retrieve your solution.

More suggestions to share?