Fit Focus Flair

Lesson 4: Use visual imagery

Hypnotists and comedians know that people hypnotise and amuse themselves. A hypnotist’s job is to get the subject to use her own imagination to ‘see’ that other possibilities exist.  To see her walking into a room with confidence, getting the job, making the presentation.

A comedian’s job is to get us to see the joke just before he deliver’s the punchline. Billy Connolly telling us that he told his ageing father that you could get prescription windscreens made for short-sighted drivers, and his father, having believed him, pestering him for weeks for the phone number of the garage who could fit him one.  Billy then turns to us and says ‘can you imagine driving in front of a car with a prescription windscreen?  You’d look in your rear-view mirror and see a head (signalling with his hands) THIS BIG’.

When you give a presentation, try to create strong mental pictures for your audience. We are open to language that gets us to use our mind’s eye to imagine whatever it is being described to us. Poets do it too.

“He was a proper poet he was,
He had a way with words,
Images flocked around him like birds,
Words, he could almost make them talk…”

Roger McGough

It’s not just hypnotists, poets and comedians who can use it though, Gerry Spence, a very successful trial lawyer puts it as follows…

“I visualise my arguments, I don’t intellectualise them. I don’t choose the intellectual words like, ‘My client suffered grave emotional distress as a result of the serious fraud perpetrated against him by the defendant bank.’ Instead in my mind’s eye I see him coming home at night and I tell the story:

‘I see Joe Smith trudging home at night to face a heap of unpaid bills sitting on the kitchen table. Nothing but cold bills to greet him in that cold empty place. No heat, no light, no water, all cut off by the utility companies. I see my client, a tired man, a man worn down by the weight of his troubles, a man without a penny to him. The bank had it all…’

You can find the fifth lesson in this series here.

This is a part of my Fit, Focus & Flair model. To be great, a presentation must be a perfect FIT for the situation; the content must have complete FOCUS on it’s purpose and message; and it must have enough FLAIR to stand out on the day, and in our memories. Learn more about developing your Fit, Focus and Flair.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey


  1. Pingback: Lesson 3: Avoid cliché like the plague

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