Words are like Water.
They can give life, or they can take it.
I remember running one of those outdoor obstacle course events a couple of years ago. Every water station was like seeing an oasis in the driest of deserts. Water was, in short, very welcome.
I also remember flying to Hawaii. Flying over the vast blue ocean reminded me that we are not as powerful as we think we are. Nature takes first place every time.
Water can give life, or take it.
Words are the same. Martin Luther King used the power of words to give hope – and life – to thousands of people. Years earlier, Hitler used the power of words to lead people to do atrocities to each other.
The right words can make all the difference. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference between the right word and the almost right word, is the difference between lightning, and a lightning bug.
Words create pictures in your listener's mind, and feelings in their heart. Speak the right words to the right listener can mean the difference between taking action, and simply accepting information.
How do you ensure to do that? You speak to the senses.
SENSE #1 – VISUAL
Does your speech contain words that speak to your visual learners? Can you use words such as 'look', 'saw' or other sight related words? Think of this in your speech.
For example, think of replacing: “The car drove towards me.” to “I SAW the headlights of the car coming towards me.”
Can I SEE your words?
SENSE #2 – AUDITORY
Your auditory learners like words such as “I heard the horn blaring.” Sound implication words such as “bang” and “crash” also work well. Approximately 20-30% of most crowds are comprised of auditory learners, so ensure that you are appealing to this type as well.
Can I HEAR your words?
SENSE #3 - KINESTHETIC
Most of your audience wants to feel your words. Appeal to them by simply using the word “feel”, or “felt”, or by using words linked to emotions or actions.
“I was moved.”
“I jumped for joy.”
“Have you ever felt that pit in your stomach?”
For your kinesthetic learners...Can I FEEL your words?
SENSE #4 – OLFACTORY
Olfactory...a fancy word for our sense of smell. Tap into your listener's mind in one of 2 ways:
Can I SMELL your words?
SENSE #5 - GUSTATORY
There's a reason that KFC has used the words “finger-licking good” in their commercials for years. They want YOU to taste their chicken – in your mind first – then in real life. When you can use words that indicate the taste of something, your audience will connect with that feeling, and be with you in your story. You may not want to sell them fried chicken, but you do want to sell your message.
The more senses that you arouse in your story, the more memorable your story will be. The more memorable your story is, the more your message will also be remembered. So....
Can I TASTE your words?
Use these sensual keys in your next speech. Touch the senses to succeed.
Kwesi Sekou Millington
Speaker & Certified World Class Speaking Coach
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.