- Photos on the bedside table become the only clue in a tale told by genetics researcher and Nobel laureate Paul Nurse about the woman who was his real mother, a family secret he stumbled on only when renewing his visa. You can hear audio of this surprising story and learn more about it in this post. By the time you get to learning about the photos in this talk, they are confirmation of what's been learned--but are the most vivid thing you'll take away.
- Gloves in an oven, lying in wait so Antarctica-based researchers' hands don't freeze as they work on ice cores in the lab, pop out in a TEDxGlobal talk by science reporter Robert Lee Hotz. The twist? The researchers are indoors, but still need the gloves because their lab is kept at a temperature that won't melt the ice they're working with. In a speech loaded with analogies, metaphors and description, the gloves stand out for me as the most memorable visual.
- Your own childhood sweater, running toward you on the body of a little boy in another country, many years later. That's the image Jacqueline Novogratz used to good effect in her TED talk, using it to illustrate a cause and motivate the crowd in a call to action. That sweater sticks in your mind as she moves from the invisible visual to statistics and rationale.
What if you don't have a visual you can describe? You can use a familiar visual metaphor to create your invisible visual, particularly if you're describing phenomena that are less concrete, like working conditions that lead to incivility, the subject of a survey out today. From USA Today's coverage:
As companies buy out and lay off workers while expecting to keep productivity up, the niceties suffer, suggests psychologist and researcher Paul Fairlie of Toronto: "White-collar work is becoming a little more blue-collar. There's higher work demands, longer hours. When you control for inflation, people are getting paid less than in the late '60s. A lot of people are working much harder. They've got fluid job descriptions and less role clarity. So for some people, for a growing fringe, work is becoming more toxic."Look at your next speech or presentation, particularly the anecdotes and examples. Can you find and emphasize that invisible visual?
Related posts: When it comes to words, concrete=credible
Why speakers should use the invisible visual