The Dandelion Group

Technique of the week

Acronyms to remember

K.I.S.S. - Keep it short and simple. You find this advise in old books or get if from aged consultants. But how do you keep it short if someone invites you to present for half an hour? Preparing your points with an acronym can provide a structure that neither you nor the audience forgets - even if it is a long speech.

Acronyms push the limits of your memory. According to the psychologist George A. Miller, grouping items into up to nine chunks allows your brain to recall more information. For example, you chunk when you pass on the digits of your phone number in pairs.

Further benefits are more structure and creativity. Assigning a label to each chapter makes it easier for the audience to follow. The ideal acronym is not only short and simple but also memorable and meaningful. This requires you to be creative.

How do you come up with a memorable acronym?

  1. Write down your key points on post its. Make the first letters bold and see if they form a word. This is the starting point.
    (e.g. How did we get there?; Lower income, more poverty; Inadequate social protection; The next steps for the next generation)

  2. If the first letters do not make sense, try changing the order similar to an anagram.
    (e.g. HLIT, LITH, HITL, THIL)

  3. In order to succeed, you probably have to replace some key words. Go over your points and ensure that roughly two thirds start with a consonant and every third with a vowel. If not, look for suitable synonyms in a thesaurus to yield better results.
    (e.g. disaster, recession, earnings, assurance, moving forward)

  4. Finally, try the options and see if you can come up with an acronym related to the event. Don’t hesitate to repeat the third step until you can present the overview without notes.
    (e.g. DREAM)


Below you will find the presentation outline of Christine Lagarde’s speech in Davos this year. As she manages the International Monetary Fund, she got a 30-minute keynote. A privilege and a challenge. She took the audience on a journey with a chronological approach, starting with an analysis of the past and concluding with suggestions for the future. The storyline is clear. 

However, imagine you have to ensure that she knows all parts by heart. Rename the chapters so that the first letters form an acronym relevant to the 2018 World Economic Forum.

Original presentation outline of "A Deferred Dream"

  1. How did we get here?

  2. Lower income, more poverty

  3. Inadequate social protection

  4. The next steps for the next generation

Learn the techniques. Boost your confidence. Make your point.
here and jump the curve.

Ben WilhelmComment