Partners in Performance Blog

Presentations That Persuade – Create Word Pictures

Storytelling is both an art and a skill. Our guest author Dr. Patsi Krakoff wrote about this in “Presentations That Persuade: Stories Drive Action,” last week.

For me, there’s nothing more compelling than watching a masterful storyteller in action. It is magical. Ever since primitive tribes sat around a fire to tell their adventures, we’ve become fascinated by stories. But how do your become skilled at this when making a presentation?

Here is one technique that will take your storytelling game to the next level and leave your audience frothing at the mouth for more. It is one of the tips I share in my article “10 Tips That Work for Truly Persuasive Presentations.”

Creating Word Pictures

Use multi-sensory language. Weave a tapestry with your words to paint pictures. Help your audience see, feel and hear what you have to say. Go beyond using words that appeal only to the thinking brain and be more intentional in using sensory rich language.

Masterful storytellers tap into all five senses through which we experience our world.  This is what makes storytelling so persuasive and memorable.

Twenty years ago, I was engaged by Linda Lundstrom, our Canadian icon in women’s fashion design, in a coaching project. I hired a professional writer to create a case study about this fascinating woman and the stellar culture she created in her company.

The writer wrote a compelling story that I remember to this day – 20 years later! She used words such as “weaves a tapestry into the fabric of her organization.” I found her language so compelling that I continue to use this thread of words in my own storytelling.

When developing your stories and communications, remember to use language that will appeal to the grand majority of your audience. We tend to rely on our own language preference and speak from that place. For example, if we are visual people, we will naturally use words such as “in my mind’s eye, look at the big picture, take a look, it is clear”.

Become aware of other preferences in your audience and weave a broader picture. Build on these powerful visual words by adding a variety of sensory rich words. Here are some categories and examples. I encourage you to add to this list with words that resonate for you.

  • Visual – “See, look, bright, picture, colourful, illuminate, clear, flash, appear, perspective, focused, foggy, bull’s eye, imagine, map out, paint the picture”
  • Auditory – “Hear, listen, loud, sound, melodious, be heard, resonate, tune in, rings true, discuss, expression, off key”
  • Kinesthetic – “Feel, pressing, touch, exciting, fits, firm, spike, elevate, hands on, secure, nailed down, concrete steps, weave, mould, compress, bend, feel comfortable, handle it, keep in touch, stay connected, flex, hang on to that thought”
  • Gustatory – “Taste, juicy, succulent, flavour, sweet, sour, bitter, mouth-watering, palate, sucks, chewy, smooth, crunchy, thirst-quenching, delicious, yummy”
  • Smell – “Scent, aroma, odour, sniff , whiff, stink, smells, fragrance, perfume”
  • Digital – “Think, know, understand, comprehend, contemplate, wonder, organize, be cohesive, be congruent, logical, sequential, ordered, steps,”

We have a lot to learn from travel writers or wine critics who use their craft to persuade their audiences. One of my favourite wine critics is our own Canadian Tony Aspler. Whenever I read his articles in the Toronto Star, I find myself pulling out paper and pen and jotting his recommendations down. I take action, which is a good indication that persuasion is at work.

“The wine has that characteristic passion fruit and gooseberry nose with a fresh, clean palate that sustains on mouth-watering acidity for a long time”.

” It’s dense purple-ruby in colour with a blackberry and vanilla oak nose; it offers well extracted fruit and it’s fresh and lively on the palate with a lingering chocolate and black fruit flavour. Just the job for a steak or other red meat dishes.”

When you start becoming more aware of the stories you enjoy listening to or reading, you’ll spot the words that appeal to your senses. What have you noticed about your favourite authors’ use of sensory words?

This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on November 25, 2011 in Persuasion, Presentation Skills, Sales Skills, Storytelling. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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