How good are the pictures you create when you speak?

Watching the Canadian Grand Prix I found myself getting confused from time to time because of the way the commentator was describing the action. Here’s an example of the kind of thing he was saying (not an actual quote).

Imagine you are actually watching the race, and get someone to read this aloud to you:

“Leading the race is Nico Rosberg. In second place is Lewis Hamilton, third is Hulkenberg, still on a one-stop strategy, using the super soft tyres, and the gap has widened to over 11 seconds, to the battle between Perez of Force India and Vettel. Button is cruising along in sixth place, with Felipe Massa in seventh. He’s catching up fast because his tyres are younger than Vettel’s.”

How easy was that to take in?

It’s easy enough to take in the 1-2-3, because they are described as a list. But the next bit creates a totally different picture because it is described in a different way and actually interrupts your understanding of what is going on. It creates a succession of disconnected images

When making a speech or presentation, it is always worth considering the pictures we make with our words, and check that consecutive images are consistent with one another.

Effective communication depends on connecting with the way our listeners receive and understand what we are saying. That’s why triads and repetition work. Repetition reinforces the message.

In a written text it is quite attractive to change the way in which a list is described. Not so in a spoken text. If, in the example above, the commentator wanted to make a point about the gap between drivers, he could have said:

“Leading the race is Nico Rosberg. In second place, just one second back, is Lewis Hamilton, with Hulkenberg third and only a couple of seconds behind him. Those are the three podium positions. Behind them the gap has widened to 11 seconds, to the battle for fourth place between Perez and Vettel. Down in sixth place we have Button, with Felipe Massa seventh.”

Read both version aloud and see which feels easier to understand.


Leave a comment

Filed under public speaking

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s