How to make people stop and listen

March 2nd, 2010
jamie oliver

I heard recently one sentence that made me stop in my tracks. Skilled presenters can have that effect. In this case, the words erupted from a spunky British chef:

“It’s profoundly important that every single American child should leave school knowing how to cook 10 recipes that will save their lives.”

As someone who loves to cook, my first reaction was to consider if I even had 10 recipes that fit the goal. As a message consultant, I was enthralled with dissecting the statement.  Known for Food Network appearances and several popular cookbooks, Jamie Oliver was at the podium for winning the 2010 TED prize for his grassroots campaign against obesity.

Several phrases in Jamie’s quote point to a much larger story about his mission to inspire people to change the way they eat. I decided to break down the sentence to see how Jamie made such an impact with just a few words:

  • “profoundly important”a declaration. It’s the set-up to the value of what’s to follow.
  • “every single American child”the target audience. He wants every parent or guardian to take heed of his words.
  • “leave school”timeliness.  The clock is ticking. Start counting the years to graduation and that’s the amount of time to learn those recipes.
  • “how to cook 10 recipes”specific call to action. Jamie proposes a task that demands attention.
  • “save their lives”emotional appeal. Jamie brings the sentence full circle to his heart-felt mission.

Every speaker strives to be memorable.  Packing a sentence with phrases that point to a more robust story is a good way to keep your listeners engaged.

Posted March 2nd, 2010

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