The Art of Public Speaking HTML version

Francis Galton[29] says: "The French appear to possess the visualizing faculty in a high degree. The peculiar
ability they show in pre-arranging ceremonials and fêtes of all kinds and their undoubted genius for tactics
and strategy show that they are able to foresee effects with unusual clearness. Their ingenuity in all technical
contrivances is an additional testimony in the same direction, and so is their singular clearness of expression.
Their phrase figurez-vous, or picture to yourself, seems to express their dominant mode of perception. Our
equivalent, of 'image,' is ambiguous."
But individuals differ in this respect just as markedly as, for instance, the Dutch do from the French. And this
is true not only of those who are classified by their friends as being respectively imaginative or unimaginative,
but of those whose gifts or habits are not well known.
Let us take for experiment six of the best-known types of imaging and see in practise how they arise in our
own minds.
By all odds the most common type is, (a) the visual image. Children who more readily recall things seen than
things heard are called by psychologists "eye-minded," and most of us are bent in this direction. Close your
eyes now and re-call--the word thus hyphenated is more suggestive--the scene around this morning's breakfast
table. Possibly there was nothing striking in the situation and the image is therefore not striking. Then image
any notable table scene in your experience--how vividly it stands forth, because at the time you felt the
impression strongly. Just then you may not have been conscious of how strongly the scene was laying hold
upon you, for often we are so intent upon what we see that we give no particular thought to the fact that it is
impressing us. It may surprise you to learn how accurately you are able to image a scene when a long time has
elapsed between the conscious focussing of your attention on the image and the time when you saw the
(b) The auditory image is probably the next most vivid of our recalled experiences. Here association is potent
to suggest similarities. Close out all the world beside and listen to the peculiar wood-against-wood sound of
the sharp thunder among rocky mountains--the crash of ball against ten-pins may suggest it. Or image (the
word is imperfect, for it seems to suggest only the eye) the sound of tearing ropes when some precious weight
hangs in danger. Or recall the bay of a hound almost upon you in pursuit--choose your own sound, and see
how pleasantly or terribly real it becomes when imaged in your brain.
(c) The motor image is a close competitor with the auditory for second place. Have you ever awakened in the
night, every muscle taut and striving, to feel your self straining against the opposing football line that held like
a stone-wall--or as firmly as the headboard of your bed? Or voluntarily recall the movement of the boat when
you cried inwardly, "It's all up with me!" The perilous lurch of a train, the sudden sinking of an elevator, or
the unexpected toppling of a rocking-chair may serve as further experiments.
(d) The gustatory image is common enough, as the idea of eating lemons will testify. Sometimes the
pleasurable recollection of a delightful dinner will cause the mouth to water years afterward, or the "image" of
particularly atrocious medicine will wrinkle the nose long after it made one day in boyhood wretched.
(e) The olfactory image is even more delicate. Some there are who are affected to illness by the memory of
certain odors, while others experience the most delectable sensations by the rise of pleasing olfactory images.
(f) The tactile image, to name no others, is well nigh as potent. Do you shudder at the thought of velvet
rubbed by short-nailed finger tips? Or were you ever "burned" by touching an ice-cold stove? Or, happier
memory, can you still feel the touch of a well-loved absent hand?
Be it remembered that few of these images are present in our minds except in combination--the sight and
sound of the crashing avalanche are one; so are the flash and report of the huntman's gun that came so near
"doing for us."