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Monday, April 04, 2011

April Theme - Speaking Visually

No matter how good your PowerPoint slides are, your presentation will only be as good as you are. Everything begins and ends with how you present. If you're a great public speaker, adding PowerPoint slides can connect more people with your message in more ways. But if you skimp on the speaking skills, the slides will do little to bolster a poor talk. So, for the month of April I want to focus on the theme of presentation skills.

Specifically, I want to look at speaking visually. It's important for us to create vivid images with our words so we can connect what we have to say with what's going on in the brains of our audience. Our brains function as primarily visual/spatial processors which means that if you aren't giving people queues to help them visualize what you're saying, then they likely will miss much of what you're attempting to communicate. It's as if our brains are vast art galleries with paintings on the walls and blank canvases stacked up in the corners. You can access a painting that people already have up and link what you have to say to what they already know. You essentially give them a mental post-it note attached to that painting. So now they associate what you said with their previous mental image. If you want to talk about teamwork, you can point to their memory of little league or to a famous team incident so you tag on to what they've already visualized.

Or, you can lead them in painting on a fresh canvas, but we can talk about that more tomorrow.

How do you help people visualize what you say?

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