VAKS-inaTe Your Stories To Hack Your Audiences’ Emotions 

The Question

“Michael, what’s your deal? What are you trying to sell us?”

Leslie’s question was unexpected. Her tone was so aggressive that I froze. My mind went… blank.

I looked at the 49 well-dressed women in front of me, drinking their coffee and enjoying their after-dinner cake. The only sound in the room was the ceiling fan slowly spinning  above me. The women looked at my like they were thinking, “Yeah, what’s your deal?”

My brain was still empty, like I could hear air bouncing around the inside of my skull.

Then, a thought… “Are you kidding me? I worked for hours on this presentation to help you and that’s the only question you can ask me?”

That’s what I was thinking; on the outside, I stood like a statue, blankly staring back at the audience.


Are you curious about what’s going on, and what happens next?

If so, then you’ve just experienced the power of an emotional moment in a story. The most impactful narratives result in audiences hanging on your every word. They want to hear what happens next.

If you structure your stories in a way that creates these moments, you’ll create an emotional bond with your listeners. This significantly increases the chances you’ll have a lasting impact on them.

But, most speakers drop the ball when it comes to creating these moments. They are focused on quickly getting all of their information out in their allotted time; they rush through the key moments in their narrative. The result is that they miss golden opportunity to connect with, and influence, their audience.

So, if you want to create those memorable moments that leave a lasting impact, use the twin turbochargers of sensory and emotional language.

Make Sense Of Your Story

Sensory details are your secret sauce. Don’t just tell us the your character “faced a challenge,” re-create the scene:

I looked at the 49 well-dressed women in front of me, drinking their coffee and enjoying their after-dinner cake. The only sound in the room was the ceiling fan slowly spinning above me. The women looked at me like they were thinking, “Yeah, what’s your deal?”

Notice the bolded words in the previous paragraph. Did they evoke one of your five senses?

This is a concept I call VAKS-inaTe your story. Where possible, and without forcing it in just to include it, include an element of these five senses in your narrative:

  • V – Visual
  • A – Auditory
  • K – Kinesthetic
  • S – Smell
  • T – Taste

(NOTE: for my biology experts, I realize that the correct term analogy for smell is “olfactory” but VAKO-naTe isn’t as memorable as VAKS-inaTe.)

Let your audience smell the sweat, taste the fear, and hear the emotion your character is experiencing.

Get Emotional

Emotional language is the fuel that ignites engagement. Don’t just say “they were happy,” Use specific words that convey the emotion they experienced, using dialogue:

“This is SOOOO exciting!”

“Oh my God! I didn’t expect THIS!”

“Are you kidding? We’re going to the Super Bowl! AWESOME!!!”

Aren’t these more engaging than saying, “They were happy?”

Remember, you’re not giving a book report or reciting a grocery list; you’re painting a picture that triggers a mental movie in your audiences mind. So unleash your inner artist!

Weave these elements into your narrative and you transform your audience from passive listeners to active participants. Your story becomes their story.

They’ll see themselves in your experience, sharing every challenge and triumph.

Wisdom From A Heckler

From now on when you tell your stories, remember this advice from legendary speaker Lou Heckler (the greatest last name ever for a professional speaker):

Don’t tell us… TAKE us into your experience.

Reliving is about making audiences feel. When they feel, they remember. When they remember, they take action.

Don’t Go It Alone

It’s impossible to effectively judge the impact of our own stories because we’re too close to them.

If you’re struggling with the impact of your stories, schedule time to talk with me so that we can increase your impact and influence. Schedule time here:


The Secret Hack To Increase Your Story Impact ultima modifica: 2024-02-09T11:22:00-05:00 da Michael Davis