Posts Tagged ‘senses’

The only way I will care about your story is if you make me care. You can’t expect your reader or audience to care unless you make it happen. You are in control. You create the emotional link. Think of three basic steps.

1. Your idea

Your story can be stand-alone or it can be illustrating a point. Either way, the basic idea is one that your readers or audience can relate to. It seems obvious. A group of women with small children will relate to a story about toilet training but a group of business men will think that a waste of time.

Let’s look at those businessmen. Are they entrepreneurs? Franchisees? Local business? International? Well established?  Focused on a product or a service? In other words you need to know more about this audience as you formulate your ideas. Define as precisely as you can the concept of what this audience is looking for. What is their primary interest? What are they hungry to know more about?

Once you can state what they are hungry for you have found your basic idea.

2. Your perspective

You are speaking or writing about this topic or idea because other people want a piece of the experience and knowledge you have. Experience and knowledge add up to an educated perspective. Some people may have the knowledge – they may have read lot about it. Some people may have hands-on experience but feel they lack the theoretical background that would give them a wider understanding.

Your perspective melds these two together to  unite the best in both those worlds. And you have stories and anecdotes from your experience to bring this to life. Every point you make you will be illustrated by a carefully chosen story from your experience. This is the story that vividly adds context and meaning to your basic idea.

Your  story or anecdote and your perspective are closely linked. The story supports your idea and your perspective – it it doesn’t do this, then pick another story.

3. Your words

Once you’ve found an idea that will draw people in and a perspective that offers your unique knowledge and experience you can start building your story to give that idea depth and meaning. A story is built from words. Try to use simple direct words wherever that is possible.

Tell your story through the senses. What do you see in the story – a landscape, a streetscape, a room? What components can you see? Trees, parked cars, a bookshelf crammed full of books?

What can you hear in the story – bird song, the screech of brakes, heavy metal music? Is there the smell of cedar, garbage or furniture polish? Do you feel the wind, the elevator button or the smooth leather chair? Can you taste the tomato in the sandwich, the popcorn, the repulsion of milk turned sour?

All the senses draw people into your story, bringing your idea to life and making your perspective real to audience or readers. and we haven’t even started on the immediacy of dialogue.

So, to make people care about what you have to say choose and hone your idea with care, present it through the lens of your own knowledge and experience and spend time selecting the words that will bring it to life.



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Is your speech bright, technicolor, memorable? Often people think of speeches as dull, brown, boring. Not your speeches, of course, yours are not like that.

But how do you make your speech vivid and memorable? First you write stories and anecdotes into them. You never write a point without adding – at the very least – a vivid word picture. Better still, you add an anecdote showing people in action.

Let’s say you are doing a speech about emergency preparedness. Everyone, you say, should have a ‘grab and go’ bag. It’s a good, valid point, but easy to forget in a busy life. To make it memorable you have an anecdote about the family who didn’t have a grab and go bag when the earthquake or flood hit. You show them running around trying to find the important papers, their glasses, wallet, cell phone, medications, food for a couple of days. You show them getting in each others way, falling over the dog. Oh yes! The dog! What about his food?

You show, don’t tell, the confusion that can result. It can be funny – people remember better when they laugh. But then you bring out a grab and go bag and show, don’t tell the contents.

And if you use Powerpoint, make sure to throw in a few cartoons, just to wake people up.

Description can be an attention-killer. Always add a standard of comparison, preferably with a touch of humor. If something is large, or old, ask yourself How large? How old? Then use vivid description. “No bigger than a baby’s fingernail”, “Longer than two football fields”. “Well past retirement age”, “Older than the pyramids” “Too young to drive.”

Go through your speech and insert sensory words – a color, a texture, a taste, a sound, a smell – especially a smell if you can work it in. Did you smell the coffee brewing this morning?

Go through your speech again and take out all the ‘There is/there are/ there were/it is/it was. That makes you look at your verbs and choose active verbs that bring movement to mind. That sense of movement will add life to your speech.

Sometimes you can choose your speech topic and you can choose one that is lively and vibrant. Making it colorful and memorable isn’t too difficult. Other times your topic is not yours to choose. You know you need to do a speech about greater productivity, or sales figures. Find the people who are producing or selling. Interview them and get their stories.

The personal story, yours or theirs, will bring you speech to life.

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