“Better Speeches Means Bullet Point Images” (Wiser Next Week: On Remembering & Knowing)

"Better Speeches Means Bullet Point Images" (Wiser Next Week: On Remembering & Knowing)
A mic is the only thing that stands between the audience and its prey.

About the Wiser Next Week Series: These entries will involve posting my book, Wiser Next Week, chapter by chapter, freely available to the public. Additionally, I’ll be recounting a story about something I’ve learned based on the chapter’s topic since the months that have past when the book was published in December 2018.


Why Keep Things In Your Head?

In this day and age of digital information, it is a very logical to argue that there is no need for remembering a lot of information. A lot, not all. There are many instances where having information in your head is needed during times when flipping on a smartphone is not an option:

  • Driving a car
  • A surgeon performing an operation
  • Giving a speech

There are times in our live where having a cheat sheet (a smartphone) is not an option.

For me, I’ve focused my efforts on improving memory effort in giving better speeches. There have been so many instances where I was at a loss for words mid speech in college. I create Youtube videos so that I can work on speaking, something I’m not naturally gifted in but is necessary.

The very first entry, I talked about no longer wanting to be an English teacher in Thailand. Besides needing a cheat sheet for a 2 minute video, I couldn’t even hold the camera straight.

With so many college powerpoint presentations I had done in college, I was used to having talking points in front of me when speaking on any topic. So trying to talk without a note card was difficult. Therefore when I started making videos in November 2019 I had a little cheatsheet directly on my phone. In many of the older videos, I can see myself pausing and staring at the screen reading the next prompt up until around April of 2020.

Technology Can’t Replace Everything

That is when I decided to ditch cheat sheets. People that do Ted Talks for example hardly ever have any prompts assisting them, and if I wanted to communicate my message at that high level, I needed to begin the process of doing the same.

It was hard, especially when at the time I ditched the training wheels I was in San Francisco (dubbed by Mark Twain as where he spent his coldest summer) while I was still well adapted to the heat/humidity of SE Asia.

Very first unscripted video. It took me 10 takes to make it “okay.” I kept getting lost mid thought.

It was cold and windy when I was taking this next leap in improving my speaking ability and I had to pee. I remember it took me 10 takes to get this 4 minute video in a fairly succinct manner.

Put Images In Your Bullet Points

But then, I used another technique. Instead of trying to remember the powerpoint style talking points in my head, I painted images representative of most of the points I wanted to make as a picture is worth a thousand words.

2 months later, I use images and contrasting points to organize thoughts inside my head.

Our minds remember images better then words as words are a human construct while images are a more primal way all life forms (that can see) interact with the world around us. I will let Kevin Horsley, author of Unlimited Memory explain the technique (read the top bullet points first):

  • Imagine you’re washing a tin. 
  • Suddenly it develops a huge Adam’s apple. 
  • A chef and her son rip it out to make medicine.
  • They give it to Marilyn Monroe who also grows an Adams apple.
  • Michael Jackson sees it and runs away in fear.
  • He jumps into a van with beer driven by a sun, a very hairy sun. 
  • The sun is a bad driver and hits a tiler tiling a polka dot wall. 
  • A tailor stops by to measure the dead body for a coffin fitting.

These points make no sense until you put it into context:

  1. Washington (washing a tin)
  2. Adams (Adam’s apple)
  3. Jefferson (chef and her son)
  4. Madison (medicine)
  5. Monroe (Marilyn Monroe)
  6. Adams (Adam’s apple)
  7. Jackson (Michael Jackson)
  8. Van Buren (van with beer)
  9. Harrison (hairy sun)
  10. Tyler (tiler)
  11. Polk (Polka dot)
  12. Taylor (tailor)

And that is the first 12 presidents of the United States.

So now before I press record on a video, I have preorganized thoughts into a series of pictures. The extra effort before hand has allowed me to speak much more efficiently. And in turn, creates a more vivid recall of past memories.

“Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.” -Oscar Wilde design by Kingston S. Lim

Here is the “On Remembering and Knowing chapter of Wiser Next Week. Take it and implement it into your own life.


Previous Chapters

“I Didn’t Know How to Do Laundry” Wiser Next Week Intro

“The Spray & Pray Teacher” Wiser Next Week: On Emotions

“Show Them Your Greatness” Wiser Next Week: On Fear

“Psychological Ownership” Wiser Next Week: On Loyalty

“Strategically Smile to Get What You Want” (Wiser Next Week: On Happiness)

“Your Body is a Car” (Wiser Next Week: On Health)

“The Gift of Time and Age”(Wiser Next Week: On Aging & Death)

“Project Your Life 5 Years Ahead” (Wiser Next Week: On Regrets)

“You’re Doing it Wrong” (Wiser Next Week: On Mistakes and Failures)

“Align Principles With Action” (Wiser Next Week: On Goals and Persistence)

Action is Courage (Wiser Next Week: On Persistence)

”See Things As They Are, Not How You Wish Them To Be” (Wiser Next Week: On Perception)

“Grab It By The Reins”(Wiser Next Week: On Opportunities)

“Ask And You Shall Receive”(Wiser Next Week: On Finding Solutions)

“A Part of What You Earn Is Yours to Keep” (Wiser Next Week: On Money)

“The 5 Principles of Entrepreneurship” (Wiser Next Week: On Entrepreneurship)

“Making A Living Vs. Making a Life” (Wiser Next Week: On Work and Career)

“Why Do Things You Suck At?”(Wiser Next Week: On Prioritizing)

“We Become What We Think About” (Wiser Next Week: On the Controllable and Uncontrollable)

“Check Your Adjectives”(Wiser Next Week: On Attitude)

“When Lightning Strikes Twice” (Wiser Next Week: On Change)

“Reap A Destiny” (Wiser Next Week: On Habit, Motivation & Willpower)

“Linking Theory With Practicality” (Wiser Next Week: On Decision Making)

“Budget Your Life” (Wiser Next Week: On Time)

“Always Have Your Guinea Pigs” (Wiser Next Week: On Learning)


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