When you engage with senses, you make it easier for people to imagine themselves in the situation you are describing and it can have great appeal to a listener, drawing them in.

Any sales associate, speaker, trainer or teacher wants to immediately engage their listener. To do this it’s essential that you have them picture a scene you are describing.

Here’s an example:

“Imagine driving this beautiful car along a Pacific coast highway. With the roof open you would be able to see the trees, smell the salty ocean, feel the sun beating down and the fresh air blowing in.”

In that scene, the sales associate paints a picture that uses many of our senses and that is one of the best ways of engaging someone. “See” the trees, “Smell” the salty sea, “Feel” the sun and the air. You could probably almost taste the salt too and hear the waves crashing in. Notice there was no color of car mentioned.. a sales associate wants the customer to decide the color.

As speakers, when we tell stories we don’t want to give too much information but just enough to create an image of the scene, e.g. “I could smell the coffee as I entered the room to meet Dave. He was a tall, slim man with short hair and a smart suit”.  It can be fun to ask your listener afterwards: “How did the coffee smell, was it freshly ground?”  They will have already decided for themselves with their imagination even though you never mentioned it. “What color was the suit?”, again they will know, even though you haven’t told them, they probably can relate your story to someone they know. It’s good that each person has their version of what you told them because they can paint their own picture much more easily.  If you gave too much information, they would be trying to make your scene in their minds, instead of being drawn right into theirs.  It’s often best to say “my wife”, rather than saying “my wife who is 5’2” tall, slim with brown eyes and brown hair.  If it doesn’t add to the experience or story, don’t mention it.

Sales associates who set a scene are able to motivate their customers. One carpet salesperson said to me “I put this carpet in my own mother’s house and she loves the soft feel on her feet”. Even a story that simple can sell a carpet, you can feel the soft carpet under your feet too and words like “my own mother” can hit home.

Stories using the senses are worth getting good at because it gives more depth of understanding to the listener and can have them lean in to your message.

Speaking Tips: The 5 Senses