Kimra Luna has blue hair.
Rand Fishkin wears bright yellow sneakers to every speaking engagement and sports a huge mustache.
Pat Flynn jumped out of a Delorean onstage at a conference with a skateboard in hand.
All of these things are attention-grabbing and memorable; you can’t help but take notice of them and remember people by them. Oddities and unexpected features help people stand out.
And that’s especially important when you’re speaking at conferences or workshops.
I’ve had the opportunity of speaking at several over the past year and a half, but I’ve had trouble answering one question:
How do you stand out?
Because any speaker knows that while you want to share helpful information, you also want to be entertaining and engaging. You don’t want to sound like a boring college professor, but you also don’t want to be a circus act.
But if you know me personally (or have spent any length of time on this site), you probably noticed very quickly that I’m normal. Like, very normal.
I don’t have any crazy tattoos. I’m not super trendy. And I definitely don’t have blue hair.
The creative designer always wishes that I would push the envelope a little bit more, but the safe, type-A side of me always holds me back.
And that’s where the story of the fish pants comes in.
I was preparing for one of my very first speaking engagements last winter.
My presentation was written, my slides were designed and ready to go, but there was one item on my to-do list that had yet to be checked off because it was totally out of my comfort zone: finding something to wear.
I'm sure many of you can relate. I wanted to look my best, but I also knew that what I wore might have the potential to set me apart.
It all sounded like a really great excuse to spend some money at Anthropologie, so I dragged Jake along to go shopping with me.
We hadn’t even been in the store for 1 minute when Jake found a pair of fish pants near the front and poked fun at them. We laughed about them, browsed the rest of the store, and I ended up leaving empty handed.
A week or two later I decided to go back to Anthropologie and ask one of their stylists for help. I explained that I wanted something professional but eye-catching; that I wasn’t afraid of bold colors or patterns but I’ve never been good at picking them out.
And wouldn’t you know. She walked back to the dressing room with the fish pants in hand.
I bought them partly because they were just odd enough to draw attention, and partly because I couldn’t wait to see the look on Jake’s face when I brought them home.
Those fish pants may not have been as flashy as a Delorean or blue hair, but they were a conversation starter at every conference I wore them to last year.
They weren’t far-fetched for me, but they definitely pushed the envelope and gave people something different to remember me by. (Not to mention that I really love them - they were worth every penny!)
Jake continues to try to coax me into making the fish pants my “signature item” at every workshop and conference, and that’s probably not going to happen.
But I did learn a few valuable insights about being memorable from the whole fish pants experience that can be applied to every area of business.
1 | Highlight the things that make you different
It may not even be a physical attribute.
It could be your background, like Sarah Morgan from XO Sarah who quit her job in 2012 to join the circus and start her own business.
It could be your wit, like Paul Jarvis whose unique perspective has me continually excited to open his newsletters each week.
It could be the relationship you have with your team or your partner, like Chip & Joanna’s humorous affection for each other on Fixer Upper.
Think about the things that set you apart from others and emphasize them. They don’t have to be drastic or crazy different, but unique traits and features help make you (and your business) memorable and distinct.
2 | Push the envelope
It’s good to get out of your comfort zone once and awhile; playing it safe can be boring for both you and your audience.
So consider ways that you can add some extra flair to a project, blog post, a presentation, or a live event.
That might look like:
- Adding some funny memes or gifs in your slide deck
- Coming up with an unexpected entrance (like Pat Flynn’s Delorean) or segway into new information
- Throwing in some prizes or incentives
- Incorporating props
- Sharing humorous examples
- Switching up the format from bullet points to a story
- Wearing yellow shoes (or fish pants)
Keep your audience on their toes! It will make your business even more fun to follow along with and leave people wondering what you’re going to do next.
Not to mention that it will be so much more fun on your end. Business can get monotonous; finding ways to mix things up a bit can add some flair to a seemingly normal task.
And when you’re having fun, that often translates in your writing, your captions, and your presentations and catches on with your audience. You set the tone.
3 | “Do you”
You never want to try to be something you’re not for the sake of attention and memorability.
I may have passed over those fish pants the first time, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable wearing them. They weren’t a far stretch.
But dying my hair blue or walking on stage with a skateboard in hand? That would have been completely out of character for me.
You don’t have to be drastic or compromise to be memorable. Highlight your differences and push the envelope every now and then, all while staying true to who you are.
What makes you memorable? Do you have a story similar to the fish pants or an idea for adding flair to a presentation or post? I want to hear it!