How Speakers Can Use Their Audience’s Senses To Create An Unforgettable Speech

by drjim on August 27, 2013

Speakers need to tap in to all of their audience's senses

Speakers need to tap in to all of their audience’s senses

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There you are: you’ve got an important message to get across to your next audience, you’ve put a great deal of time and effort into creating your speech, and yet you don’t think that it’s going to work. Why not? The short answer is that the speech that you’ve created is not unforgettable. Sure, your audience is going to sit there and listen to you speak. However, once you’re done talking they are going to stand up, walk out, and promptly forget everything that you just said. What can you do to prevent this?

Say Hello To A Speaker’s 5 Best Friends

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane back to elementary school: what are the 5 senses? If you said sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste then congratulations, you were correct!

Sight is probably the easiest sense to include in a speech. What you want to do is to use words in your speech to set up a situation where your audience can visualize what you want them to see in their mind’s eye.

It turns out that it’s not all that hard to tap into your audience’s sense of smell. You don’t necessarily have to describe the smell (although you can), rather what you can do is to describe the situation in which they would encounter the smell. Telling your audience that your nose wrinkled up when you took the top off of the milk that had gone bad a week ago will cause everyone’s nose to wrinkle up.

Touch is another sense that can be easily accessed by a speaker. Keep in mind that touch is not necessarily just rough vs. smooth. It can also include cold (how your fingers feel while pumping gas during the winter or softness (how a loved one’s hair might feel to your touch).

The simple fact that you are talking and your audience is listening to you makes accessing the sound sense straightforward to access during your speech. Most sounds are either pleasant, startling, or grating. There’s a good chance that your audience has heard any sound that you’ll be talking about before. Have them bring up that memory and you’ll have brought this sense to life for them.

The final sense that you are going to want to have your audience access is taste. Before you ask your audience to taste something, you may want to discuss what ingredients went into the thing that they’ll be tasting. This is a simple way to prepare them to taste the final product.

How To Work Your Audience’s Senses Into Your Next Speech

Once you understand what you want to do to get your audience to use their 5 senses to remember your next speech, the real challenge is going to be figuring out a way to work these techniques into your next speech.

The simplest way to go about doing this is to just write the 5 senses down before you start to write your next speech. As you add words that will invoke a given sense into your speech, check that sense off of your list. This way you can make sure that by the time you are done writing your speech, you will have included words that will allow you to tap into all 5 of your audience’s senses.

One important thing to keep in mind is that you are trying to reach your audience’s senses because you want to make your speech that much more memorable. Make sure that you don’t end up overloading your audience with too many sensory images – if you do, then they’ll do what we all do in real life: shut down. Sensory detail should be designed to enhance, not take over, your next speech.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers, the one thing that we most want is for our next speech to be remembered by our audience. In order to make that happen, we need to make sure that the speech that we give reaches out and engages our audience’s 5 senses while we give it.

Each member of your audience has 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. By using the right words at the right time, you can cause your audience to “feel” your speech and that will make it more memorable. Work these 5 senses into your next speech by listing them out and then making sure that they’ve been worked into different places in your speech.

It turns out that it’s not all that hard to make your next speech unforgettable. Each and every one of us uses our 5 senses every day. All you have to do is to tune your next speech to tap into these 5 senses while you are giving your speech and you’ll have created a an unforgettable speech.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that your speech has to tap into all 5 senses or are just a few good enough?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Every time we give a speech we always have one big hope: that our audience is able to remember what we tell them. After all, isn’t that what the importance of public speaking is all about? This is a great goal to have; however, it does not always happen. Instead, once we are done talking, our audience can all too easily start to forget the words of wisdom that we’ve shared with them. We need to find a way to fix this problem.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie August 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm

This is why good storytelling is so important as a speaker. People are 20 times more likely to remember the facts in your speech if they’re woven around a story.

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Dr. Jim Anderson September 6, 2013 at 9:23 am

Julie: you are 100% correct. That’s why coming up with a story that works with what you want to talk about can be such a big part of getting ready for your next speech…!

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