Imagine Yourself Relaxing on a Beach Without a Care in the World

Dreaming holidayJust suppose that you began your next talk with the grabber, “Imagine yourself relaxing on the beach without a care in the world.” Do you think that image would get the attention of people in the audience? With most people working 24/7, who wouldn’t want to be relaxing on a beach?

Whether you’re delivering a speech from notes or giving a presentation with slides, using

visual imagery will engage your audience.

Bring Your Talks to Life

When planning your talk, you first need to analyze your audience. Who are they? What are their information needs? How can you make a complex subject understandable so you don’t lose them? How can you make it interesting?

Visual and aural imagery can create a compelling experience for the audience. Imagery will enable you to engage them to “be in the moment” with you. Powerful images will touch their emotions and make them feel they are part of the presentation.

For example, we change the photos in our slide presentations to fit each audience. Increasingly, the executives we train come from very diverse backgrounds — gender, ethnicity and language — and we need to be sensitive to that. Everyone wants validation and to believe you are talking directly to him or her.

That’s why a visual image is worth a thousand words if you’re speaking to a diverse group of executives. Ensure that your messages and images reflect this diversity.

An ad agency competing for the General Motors account many years ago spent a huge amount of time and money in preparing its pitch to the GM advertising team. It didn’t get the account.

A leading trade journal quoted GM’s director of advertising – a woman – as saying one reason was that the agency team didn’t include a single woman. Her point was how could a team of all men understand the needs of their women customers.

Use Analogies and Metaphors

Including analogies and metaphors in your speeches and presentations will create vivid images for your audience. All in the mind. We use them in every day language without a second thought. “I feel like road kill today,” is a common expression that conveys how awful someone feels. “She’s a real pussy cat” tells us that someone is very gentle.

That first example was an analogy, a similarity between like features of two things that are seemingly different but actually have something in common. The comparison starts with either “like” or “as” such as in these analogies:

“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” — Winston Churchill

“Silvia Dunne’s voice sounded calm and even, but April knew her mother was like a grenade with the pin out – she could explode any minute.” — Mia James

“If people were like rain, I was like drizzle and she was a hurricane.” — John Green

Now if Winston Churchill had said something like, “A good speech should be long enough so that everything is covered and short enough so that people pay attention,” would that have been nearly as interesting?

Unlike analogies, which compare two different things, metaphors imply that something is the same as another otherwise unrelated object, like these examples:

“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” – Albert Einstein

“Conscience is a man’s compass.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running” – Groucho Marx

Banish Dense Type

Great presenters know they’ll make more of an impression if they use less type on a slide and more images. A well-chosen image will convey a stronger message than a string of bullet points that no one can read.

A clever turn of phrase will grab attention more than a recitation of facts. So let your imagination take over when preparing your talk. Ask yourself, “Would I be interested in hearing this?” If the answer is, “no,” then substitute a photo. If you’re excited by the image, then your audience will be, too.

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