Visualize your path across all domains, including oratory

Powerful visualization. I fancy those words. Just the mere syntactical representation impresses the underlying meaning. Linguists refer to such words as autological. “Powerful” sounds powerful. “Visualization”, likewise, immediately acquires some multi-dimensional aspect.

Visualize something you desire. Really strain to construct a strong visual. It’s a strain on only your imagination. It will cause you no harm. Be content. But do that, and you will, in all likelihood, attain it.

The key lies in the visual. The strength must be such that it becomes very realistic. And whatever reality preceded quickly becomes legacy.

Now. The merits of a powerful visualization apply as much to your communication abilities as to anything else.

In Toastmasters meetings, I observe much speech critique. The evaluation role, in fact, is among my favorites. Gesture less, gesture more, gesture meaningfully, modulate or calm that voice, slow down, increase the pace, pronounce that differently. I’ve heard such words, and many others of purpose. I’ve said them myself.

But I believe such critique secondary in impact. Secondary to what the speaker really desires, or rather, to the visualization the speaker domesticates.

Not every speaker carries a visual. I can understand that. Many don’t know what they really want besides to better speak. That notion of ‘better’ commonly associates with characteristics of generally accepted public speech. But what does that mean to you?

You might identify certain role models as exemplary public speakers. Perhaps you’ve become accustomed to watching seminars of your preferred success coach, whose communication traits you identify with effective communication. Or maybe you defer to motion pictures as a model for impactful deliveries.

As for myself, I experiment with varying presentation styles, some of which have notably deviated from my genuine preference for ‘less is more.’ I prefer less overall motion for greater energy concentrated in the face and vocals. Note, I emphasize energy, not volume.

With that in mind, I’m seeking to scale back down to the minimal of gestures. And then reiterate, transitioning from one extreme to the other as the two trajectories gradually converge.

On the flip side, not only do I find myself lacking certain affinity for meaningful gesturing, but don’t particularly appreciate gestures in general. I don’t have the desire to adapt that presentation method as a permanent characteristic, be it considered indisputable in effective communication. Nor do I seek to capture grand audiences with sensational oratory. My ambition I focus on a more intimate scale.

Each type of stage caters to a subset of presentational qualities, not all universal. And each effective speaker best conveys a style not necessarily held as a standard. It’s about what works for you. And the more parameters you conceive around what you want, the easier you’ll arrive at a concrete visual.

My strongest visuals of effective speech I identify with reserved yet impacting figures. Have you watched the early film noir of Hitchock, Wilder, or Goulding? You would often observe a personage to hardly move a muscle or blink, yet transmit raw, explosive energy; energy seemingly concentrated above the neck, but originating from deep within. This approach is by no means exclusive to traditional cinema, but I more associate it with that period. The technique represents what I arrived to identify as the strongest visual of a powerful speaker. And consequently I find it most natural to assimilate.

The visual may originate from even a literary source. If created with sufficiently descriptive finesse, a character can evoke an image of colossal impact. You can realistically imagine this person, with all the corporal and vocal particularities.

Once you have the visual firmly welded, you may still find your physical self misaligned. I certainly experience this to varying extent. But fear not. It will arrive with time. You will converge with your visual if it’s one you believe in. Be persistent, and return to the visual daily. Make it a ritual. Whatever your pursuit, have a visual.

Written by Vitaly Parnas