The definition of the term symbol, suggests it’s a word, phrase or image, or the like, , , having a complex associated meaning and perceived value. (Dictionary.com)
For the purpose of our study of visual aids used in public speaking, we will focus in the term “image” and “meaning.”
I have studied the idea of images adults use and the meanings they attach to them for many years. My conclusion is that most adults have at least 1000 or more symbolic definitions pre-programmed in their minds.
As a presenter, it is your job to harness these pre-programmed meanings in our speeches and presentations.
By simply suggesting an image (say a light bulb), you automatically suggest a (already learned) lesson to the minds of your audiences. It’s already there!
So, to help you understand this reality a little better, I have invented a little game. Let’s call it The Symbol Game.
PowerPoint and Slideboom.com will help us.
First, get a pencil and a blank piece of paper. And a place to write while you watch.
Second, get ready to write fast. This is a drill, , , of sorts. But it is fun!
Third, there 30 images are that will be displayed to you. (Do not write down the name of the object.)
Fourth, quickly write down the first thought that comes to your mind when the item is flashed on the screen.
Fifth, go through the exercise at least three or four times.
You will notice several principles of using symbols in your speaking.
1. The big one is that background, religion, education, where you grew up, even your gender and nationality dramatically effect how you interpret the objects.
2. Another biggy is your age, both youth and agedness.
3. Many objects (or symbols) have more than two or three meanings. For instance, a light bulb may stand for “light,” “a new idea,” or “creativity.”
4. There are no losers—only people who do not participate.
I guarantee you, you’ll learn things about how people (and you) use symbols in your thinking you never dreamed. And how you can better use them in your speaking experience.