Connecting to your audience is a critical factor if you want to present with impact. One of the best ways to connect is through a shared experience.
A shared experience is a way to relate to others through memories associated with past events. Though you may not have experienced the exact same memory, you have experienced a similar one.
Sometimes to see more clearly,
you need to open
more than your eyes.
With shared experiences you tap into your audience’s senses at a deeper level. A level that is charged with emotion and can actually bring back the physical sensations associated with that memory.
One of my favorite tools to use to create a shared experience is an image. Without a word, you can put your audience into a common frame of mind.
Our Shared Experience
Consider this expressive photo of the girl with a dropped ice cream cone. Has this ever happened to you? Most of us have either experienced this ourselves, or can empathize with the child in the photo. What do you feel when you see this? Sadness? Compassion? What sensations to you experience physically? A tightness in your throat? A little butterfly in your belly? Does your facial expression soften? Do you smile or frown?
At the moment we look at this picture, each person is immediately pulled into that emotion and into that experience – together. You know what your audience is feeling, because you put them there with the image.
Caution – Handle Your Audience With Care
Where many of us run into trouble, is when we forget that not all experiences are shared. Each individual has developed a unique worldview based on their life’s experiences. Your goal is to find out the shared experience of your particular audience. The trick with using images to bring your audience to a specific place in that shared experience is to know which shared experience to evoke. This is why it is critical to know your audience first.
As part of the preparation for your presentation, before you put pen to paper, you first must identify your audience – their expectations, their world view – so that you can use the right shared experience to get the desired impact.