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Using Speech Patterns to Create Hooks and Sound Bites

I’ve shared before about the importance of sound bites, and I’m coming back to that topic for two reasons:

#1: It’s critical to understand them and create them

#2: I’ve identified the speech patterns to play off of while creating your own sound bites.

But before that, what exactly makes a good sound bite?

Sound bites can be talking points, stories, vignettes, facts, stats, anecdotes. They are often shocking and provocative, moving and memorable. They are essential messages and they need to be a natural part of  the conversation. Think of them as the sizzle on the steak. You wouldn’t want to do an interview consisting of all sound bites. That would be extremely annoying, but sound bites are like a spice that is used in cooking. A little dash of this and a little dash of that adds creates the magic and makes it memorable and very sticky.

Sticky = memorable.

What is a key message? OK, if you don’t know, then that is where you must begin. I have addressed this in other blog posts and in the Savvy Sunday News before. Assuming you DO know your book’s key messages, then here is the next question:

What what are those speech patterns I mentioned up above? They are listed below from The Media Training Bible by Brad Phillips. Remember, you can use these speech patterns to come up with your own sound bites, and you should.

Speech Patterns for Sound Bites

1. Similes, metaphors, and analogies. Example: “It’s as if Republicans and Democrats are planning a trip, but they disagree over whether you should start the trip from Rio de Janeiro or Greenland.” (from Howard Gleckman, Tax Policy Center.)

2. Triples: “We help ordinary people get rich without working on Wall Street, inheriting wealth, or marrying a millionaire.” You see, as human beings, we tend to like triples. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Body mind and spirit, one two three, do re me. Etc.

3. Rhetorical Questions: “More than 600,000 Americans lost their jobs last month. How many more families need to lose their economic lifeline before Congress acts?”

4. Contrasts, Conflicts, or Paradoxes: “Our food is fresh. Our customers are spoiled.” (Fresh Direct, online grocer)

5. Sound bites can express certainty or Power: “We are in this to win.”  Gen. David Petraeus

6. Superlatives: “This is the biggest technological advance in 50 years in the oil business.” (Philip Crouse, oil analyst

7. Pop culture: “I’ll have what she’s having.” “May the force be with you.” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” “Play it again, Sam.” There’s no place like home.” “Go ahead, make my day.” You get the idea.

8. Emotions: “As a New Yorker, I am absolutely horrified by what happened in my city last night.” Commenter on a website following an incident in NY.

9. Surprise Twist:  This one comes from President Ronald Reagan, diffusing accusations that he was too old for a second term. He said, “I will not exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

10. Tweaked Clichés: “Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it does grow faster in credit unions without those greedy big-bank fees.”hose are the common speech patterns that are used on a regular basis for the creation of sound bites.

So now what? How do I create sound bites for my book? In my next Savvy Sunday News, I will give you the secret formula!

To your success,


P.S. If you know someone who could benefit from tips like this, please send them here to sign up for our Savvy Sunday News.

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