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

Relax on the BeachJust suppose that you started your next talk with the grabber, “Envision yourself unwinding on the sea shore cool as a cucumber.” Do you believe that picture would stand out enough to be noticed by individuals in the audience? With a great many people working every minute of every day, who wouldn’t have any desire to be unwinding on a beach?

Whether you’re conveying a discourse from notes or giving a presentation with slides, using visual symbolism 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 might you make a complex subject understandable so you don’t lose them? How might you make it interesting?

Visual and aural symbolism can make a convincing encounter for the audience. Imagery will empower you to draw them in to “be in the moment” with you. Powerful images will touch their emotions and cause them to feel they are part of the presentation.

For example, we change the photographs in our slide presentations to fit each audience. Increasingly, the executives we train come from very diverse backgrounds — gender, ethnicity and language — and we should be sensitive to that. Everybody wants approval and to trust you are talking straightforwardly to him or her.

That’s why a visual image merits a 1,000 words in case you’re addressing a diverse gathering of executives. Ensure that your messages and pictures mirror this diversity.

An ad agency competing for the General Motors account many years ago invested an immense 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 is it possible that a team of all men could understand the needs of their women customers.

Use Analogies and Metaphors

Its All in the MindIncluding analogies and representations in your speeches and presentations will create vivid images for your audience. We use them in every day language without the slightest hesitation. “I feel like road kill today,” is a common expression that conveys how terrible somebody feels. “She’s a real pussy cat” tells us that somebody is very gentle.

That first example was a analogy, a similarity between like features of two things that are apparently unique however they really share something in common. The correlation begins with either “like” or “as, for example, 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 quiet and even, but April knew her mother was like a grenade with the pin out – she could explode at any moment.” –  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 individuals pay attention,” would that have been nearly as interesting?

Unlike analogies, which think about two unique things, metaphors infer that something is the same as another otherwise unrelated object, like these examples:

“All religions, arts and sciences are parts 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 Thick Type

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

A clever turn of a phrase will grab attention more than a recitation of facts. So let your creative mind assume control over while preparing your presentation. Ask yourself, “Would I be interested in hearing this?” If the answer is “no,” then substitute a photo. If you’re excised by the image, your audience will be, too.

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The Newman Group is a recognized leader in guiding business professionals, celebrities and authors to improve their communications skills in presentations and media interviews.

Our highly skilled and experienced professionals have the expertise in media and presentation training to meet any business situation — from helping an executive to prepare for the challenge of talking to a reporter during a business crisis to presenting a group of investors during an IPO or keeping a celebrity spokesperson on point.