top of page
  • Laura Summerhayes

Have you washed your hands?

No, I haven’t been patrolling the bathrooms of the UK with a stopwatch. Like the rest of the nation, I’ve well and truly absorbed the advice of the government to regularly wash my hands with soap and hot water for at least twenty seconds.

How many times do you think you’ve heard that message over the last week? On the radio, on the news, on social media, the hairdressers, the greengrocers, on the bus, even walking down the street.


Whether you’re fighting a pandemic or trying to communicate with your customers, repetition is a powerful tool.

Repetition reminds people of your message. It reminds them of it often.

Repetition of a simple message helps it sink in.

Repetition gives your message rhythm, stickability, and oomph.

Journalists understand this. So do authors. And, whatever you think of them, politicians know this too. I won’t torture you with the repetition of some of the political slogans that have emerged in recent times. A simple message, repeated often = persuasion, assimilation in the mind of the hearer, and action.

But it has to be simple.

So simple as to become viral in itself.

What’s your message?

And what is the simplest way you can express it? How can you repeat it as often as possible – and where?

Repetition helps people remember your message. When they’re looking for what you provide, you’ll be top of mind.

Define your key message. When you think it’s as simple as can be, practise repeating it. Keep going until you’ve got something workable…

Your words matter.

Keep making them work for you.

Powerful examples of repetition

  • Some of the most effective uses of repetition are found in oratory. Take a look at Winston Churchill’s repetition of ‘We shall’, and Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’. The rousing effect of repetition is unmistakable

  • Irvine Welsh sent up the anti-drug movement of the 80s by twisting the (repetitive) ‘Choose life’ slogan to his own satirical devices. The slick marketing campaign for the film adaptation standardised Welsh’s Scottish dialect and captured the cultural imagination of a generation

  • Repetition is favoured by writers of every kind. Yet it doesn’t have to be a sledgehammer! This poem is an exquisite lesson in the art of repetition. In the hands of a poet, repetition makes a beautiful point oh-so tenderly

Recent Posts

See All

Write your way into the unknown

When was the last time you did something that scared you? You know, the kind of thing where as soon as you’ve agreed to do it, you think ‘Oh god. What have I done? How can I get out of this? How am I


bottom of page