The passing of Johnny Cochrane this week highlights one of the most skilled wordsmiths since Shakespeare.

With his famous sound bite: “If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.” he redefined the essence of the trial and gave large segments of the nation and possibly the jury a rallying cry.

Let’s anaylze why this sound bite worked.

1. It is memorable
2. It rhymes. While this isn’t essential for each sound bite, it certainly makes the bite more memorable.
3. It is reapeatable because of 1 and 2.
4. It contains a call to action (You must acquit). Most bites don’t have this feature. That’s what made Johnny a genius. And if you look at all three words, each is important. But the most important choice of a word is “must.” He didn’t say, you should acquit, you might consider the possibility or acquitting, or “you should debate the issue to the full extent of your moral dimensions.” Johnny nailed it.

Good luck with your sound bites. When you need inspiration, think of Johnny.