How to engage your audience through a visual experience with their minds

by | Public Speaking Tips

woman sitting in the warm sunshine in fieldOur brain loves pictures. We are captivated by vivid, compelling, relevant images.

Sometimes, though, we just can't use an image for a number of reasons. Technology isn't available and the group to too large for a physical print. Or – and this does happen – the technology we thought we'd have breaks down and we are suddenly without images we planned to use.

Sometimes, our audience is simply better served by painting their own image – experiencing a scene – inside themselves.

That's what I want to show you today – that we have a full artist studio available to us through words.

Click the play button on the short audio above. Get comfy and settle in for a bit of guided bliss…

See – you don't even have to have actual images available to show your audience. You always have the most powerful tool available to you anytime – their mind's eye, their imagination.

Your ability to paint a picture in their imagination, and take them into that picture – is pure gold for captivating their attention during your talk.

How was that little one-minute journey I took you on in that audio above? (Go ahead, indulge in another round of that bliss… )

Spend a moment and answer the questions for yourself below about how you felt after listening to that audio:

  1. What did you notice in your mind as I spoke?
  2. Did you see colors?
  3. What did your body feel like?
  4. How might you use a similar audience experience in your next talk?
Here are three ways to help your audience conjure a vivid, compelling image and experience in their mind:
  1. Take them by the hand and lead them into the scene 
    When you begin, your audience is sitting in a chair in the room where you're speaking. As your audience, our world consists of a speaker, audience neighbors, and the many thoughts we walked into the room carrying. It's a journey you will take us on to lead us from that room into a whole new “reality” in our mind. So describe the overall scene and place us in the scene. Where are we sitting, standing, looking? What does it look like all around us? What are the colors, shapes, textures? Not so much detail that it starts to confuse or exhaust us, but just enough that we can place ourselves there and see the image full view.
  2. Describe one or two elements in great detail so we have a focal point
    Once we are transported to this scene, we need to know where to focus our attention. There are so many things we could attend to. Where you choose to enrich our vision with details will guide our attention. Is there a bird you want us to focus on? Describe it's colors, shape, the flutter of it's tail. Is there a sound, a type of music? Give us the tempo, beat, a set of lyrics.
  3. Use feeling words as well as image words to invite us into an experience
    You choose this imagery and experience strategy because it enhances our learning or engagement in a meaningful way with a particular piece of your presentation content. Guide us with feelings words to deepen our connection with the experience. When our feelings are activated, we are far more likely to remember the lesson, inspiration or message you connect with it for us.

Our brains are such magical things. When we as speakers engage our audience's brains more fully – using experience, emotional connection and vivid imagery – we help them stay with us, ground their experience and set it to memory for them. This makes for not only a captivating and memorable experience but also a truly useful investment of their time and energy.