Communication has changed. My dad grew up listening to radio. The family would gather around and sit attentively as the radio broadcast news, variety shows, and serials. I grew up with television. Not only did I have something to listen to, but my eyes were involved as well. My kids grew up with Atari; a simple video game system that involved the ears, eyes and simple hand movements. My grandkids have interactive games that include all the senses (with maybe the exception of smell). The point is it takes more to get reception than it did in generations past. To make sure our message is heard and remembered we must involve more of the total person than just the ears. Our senses are daily bombarded with myriads of impressions. If we are going to give presentations that make an impact and are memorable we must use very sense available to impact our audience.
Speaking to a group of people about how easily we let things slip through our grasp, I handed out hotel-sized bars of soap and had them write the three main points on the outside wrapper. Those little soaps are hard to hold onto and slip though the grasp very easily. The small bars of soap made an easy and memorable illustration; it also gave the participants something other than paper to use, feel, and even smell. Writing on and holding on to the little soaps helped them pay attention and reinforced the learning. It is also something more likely to be kept and pondered than notes on a piece of paper.
The more senses we can get involved into our presentations the more enjoyable and memorable they will be. As we are speaking if we can put something in their hands that can reinforce the message we will also be successful in getting it into their heads. The small bars of soap mentioned above were easily accessible at a local hotel chain that was more than happy to donate them to the assembly.
Too often we think our passion will be enough. If we can create some excitement and enthusiasm with our voice and gestures it will be contagious and will connect. Although that can be true, to engage as many senses as possible will help us create a more long-lasting impression, one in which the content, not just the presentation or presenter, will be remembered. When we have crafted a presentation only a little more thought will help us tap into a innovative way to help the audience connect to the message and remember its key points.
When speaking on the power of communication to do damage, I handed out tongue depressors for the title and ideas to be written on. Years later someone showed me their tongue depressor and commented on how much it had meant and that they continued to carry it with them in an effort to be careful how they talked to and about people.
The next time you prepare a presentation be creative and think of an object you can put in the peoples hands that will carry your message from their hands to their imaginations.
Craig Wagganer is a Keynote and Motivational Speaker specializing in Public Speaking.