I do a lot of speaking. If there is one thing I have learned through communicating often, it’s this:
Illustrations speak louder than points.
Stories. Pictures. Objects. Graphs. No matter what environment you communicate in, most people will remember the illustrations you use more than the points you make. Think about your own experience. What do you remember about talks you have attended? Do you remember a lot of the points? Do you remember the pictures shown? Were the points persuasive? What about the illustrations used? For me personally, I especially remember creative illustrations tied to memorable points. That’s not to say that points don’t impact people. Truths, principles, lessons, and strategies have all made a difference in the way I think. Points can be quite powerful. But without clear illustrations, I usually don’t remember points.
Now, imagine the power of a message tied tightly to creative illustrations. Today, I want to give you three keys to using creative illustrations that will help impact your audience.
1. Think Tangibly
Find illustrations that people can touch. Maybe you use something everyone in the room has in their pocket or purse. Maybe you use an item everyone has in their bathroom at home. Maybe you give everyone in the audience a gift to take and carry with them after they leave. It could be a debit card, an iPhone or Android, a carton of milk…no matter what the object is, the audience needs to be able to see you hold it, talk about it, and imagine themselves with it.
Then, you must tie that object to your point or concept. Your desire is that every time someone in the audience comes in contact with your object they will think of your talk. Your point will be driven deep into their memory banks because the memory is recalled on a regular basis. Get them to think about your content because of your object lesson and you have won.
2. Think Audience
Make sure you understand your audience. Utilizing your hipster roots by playing an Avett Brothers song at an event with Baby Boomers probably won’t return the results you had hoped for. In the same way, talking about “taping” a show on television with a group of Millennials might make your talk a little lack-luster. Don’t just mail in a talk you have done a hundred times. Think about your audience and adjust your content accordingly.
When you use illustrations everyone understands, you are connecting your content to your audience. You build credibility and trust with them. You are showing them that you belong with them at this moment, and you are attaching your content to their lives.
3. Think Simple
I am a thinker. Sometimes I am an over-thinker. That’s a great thing…if I am with a group of over-thinkers. But that’s not most audiences. Trust me, you don’t want to spend 10 minutes trying to connect your illustration to your idea (not that I’ve learned from experience or anything). So in most communication, you have to under-think. That’s not to say audiences aren’t smart enough to comprehend what you have come up with. Quite the opposite, but they just don’t want to expend the mental energy to try to follow you down a rabbit hole illustration. So, you are required to come up with simpler illustrations. Your illustrations need to have one level of application. The illustrations you come up with need to have a direct correlation to you content. People should immediately be able to make the connection between your illustrations and your idea.
When you tie illustrations to ideas, when you tie objects to concepts, when you tie media to message, your audience will walk away with memories tightly tied to the content you communicated, and isn’t that the point?
What is the best illustration you’ve ever seen? What is your biggest illustration blunder?