In his immortal Gettysburg address, Abe Lincoln opened his mouth and said, Four score and seven years ago… He could’ve said, 87 years ago. But he didn’t. Instead, he used the old English expression for 20, which is score. When you speak in public, when you communicate in your company, when you talk to a prospect on the phone – Say things differently!
Why? Because it sticks out of the gray mass of content. It’s different, and that makes it more memorable. You can use metaphor, simile and allusion, among other rhetorical devices, to increase your impact.
You can say, And then I moved from London to New York.
Or you say, And then I left the city of Noel Coward behind and moved to the city of Frank Sinatra.
You can say, We’re facing tough times in this company.
Or you say, Compared to our current situation in this company, the fight of Leonidas and his 300 was a picnic.
You can say, The doctor-patient relationship will change in the future.
Or you say, The doctor-patient relationship will be like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the future. The irony is that Dr. Watson will be the patient.
You can say, Can you bring me the check, please?
Or you say, Can you bring me the magical document, please?
You can say, I’m a private banker.
Or you say, I’m a firefighter wearing a suit and a tie.
You can say, I was born in 1989.
Or you say, I was born in the year when the Wall came down.
It is known that Lincoln worked for hours and hours and hours on his 273 words, which changed the course of history in two and a half minutes. When you prepare your next speech or presentation, make sure that you don’t just say things – Say things differently!
Maybe you too will make it into the history books.