Red Car

Communicate to Win: 025 – Do You See What I See? Using Vivid Details

In previous posts, I’ve stressed the importance of crafting a good story. Use the power of language laced with vivid details to connect with your listeners while you are telling a story. When you can drive your point home with colorful descriptions, you are seen as the authoritative expert on the topic.

To illustrate my point, take a look at this simple example of someone observing a car that missed a stop sign…

  • The car drove past the stop sign. This person may or may not have witnessed a law being broken.
  • The red car drove past the stop sign. This person has a little more detail, but the statement does not have much impact.
  • The red sports car drove past the stop sign. As details build, listeners agree a law was probably broken. However, the audience doesn’t really feel passionate about the situation.
  • The red sports car sped past the stop sign. Now, most certainly a law was broken. The audience believes the witness and wants to act!

Can you see how the use of vivid details made this story come alive?

Vivid equivalents is a technique used to make obscure facts tangible. Let’s look at an example…

By printing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on ancient forest-friendly paper, Raincoast Books minimized its impact on the environment and helped safeguard the world’s ancient and endangered forests. Using 1,233 tons of 100% post-consumer recycled, processed chlorine-free paper and fiber instead of virgin fiber means that Raincoast Books is saving natural resources.

This sounds somewhat interesting. Now, watch what happens when I give you more information about the natural resources saved by publishing this book on recycled paper using vivid equivalents…

  • 29,640 trees = a forest area equivalent to 95 football stadiums
  • 12,417,947 gallons of water = water filling 31 Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • 698 tons of solid waste = 155 average female elephants
  • 1,337 tons of greenhouse gases  = a car with average fuel efficiency traveling 2.4 million miles

With this information, there should be no doubt in your mind now about how many natural resources were saved by using recycled paper!

Take some time to develop vivid equivalents as you prepare your statistics. You gain a much higher chance of your listeners remembering the information and moving them to take action.

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