Chalk Talk

With the folding of the literary world into the visual world, many speakers are looking for new ways to capture the visual attention of their audiences. Charismatic personalities have a head start, but all are capable of making a visual connection.

Word pictures and stories are the easiest visuals that can be shared. This weekend I heard a story about a young boy who bolted out of his house toward school after a quick bowl of Captain Crunch cereal. It happened in snow-covered Wisconsin, but the blanket of snow didn’t hinder the boy.

He ran into the school and was surprised to see it empty. He walked the halls and couldn’t find one student at their lockers. After giving a careful listen, he wondered if the Sunday evening service about how to survive missing the rapture had come to fruition.

He combed the halls and found one teacher sitting at her desk, but the sight didn’t comfort him, as he knew the teacher all too well. He sprinted back home knowing that if his mom were there he would be all right, especially since she clearly knew God.

Shouting through the house in search of his mom, he found his brother, which didn’t give him any peace, as he knew his brother. Finally, he found his mom and was relieved. The rapture hadn’t happened. He would be just fine, but would also read the Bible more veraciously to make sure he didn’t miss the real rapture that was yet to come.

The story took me on a memorable journey and taught a simple lesson that surpassed the fading of information – 24 hours after a speaker shares key information only 15% of it is remembered. Yet, we tend to remember pictures forever.

I recently received several compliments a week after my last speaking engagement. The comments were based on the chalk talk I gave and each person commented on the picture I drew. Anything directly associated with the picture was remembered, but everything else was already forgotten.

By reducing a talk to a series of pictures, we can test the memorability of our message. It’s a process that also helps us clarify our message. Everyone knows the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words and most can confirm it by sharing scenes from the latest movie they saw.

The idea is to make sure your key points can be visualized. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, as long as it can be seen and not just heard. Those who have photographic memories will be most thankful, but everyone will find your shared concepts more understandable and memorable.

Copyright © 2011 By CJ Powers
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