Do Your Public Speaking and Presentations Pass the Vegemite Toast Test?


Do Your Public Speaking and Presentations Pass the Vegemite Toast Test?

Let me break it down. In Australia, we have a famous breakfast spread, a yeast extract called Vegemite. It’s been around since 1922, and there have reportedly been more than a billion jars produced.

To be honest, it’s probably popular because we are weaned on it as kids, and by the time we are adults we think it’s totally normal. It’s not until we have to explain it to another adult that we realise what a ‘unique’ taste it has (also described by some as ‘disgusting’) and that there is nothing natural about tasting it for the first time.

There is a skill to making Vegemite toast; it’s all about getting the butter/Vegemite ratio right. Anyway, this blog is not an instruction on vegemite toast! I was recently an attendee on a 9-hour webinar. Yes, 9 hours, which requires quite an effort to entertain an audience with public speaking for, even when it is broken into three sessions. Although it went way past my bedtime, I sat up eyes wide open glued to every moment. It was that good.

The point is, during one of the presentations, the public speaker referred to a time in his life where he felt a certain way, and how he longed to simply sit and eat Vegemite toast.

By doing this, in his public speaking, he actually tapped into the psyche of his audience. Now it’s possible that some audience members were not familiar with Vegemite, but they could still follow along (as they are likely to know at least what toast is). Also what he did was he appealed to our senses in a way that most public speakers never do.

The important point here is not Vegemite; it’s the fact that we can use taste (gustatory) as a means to connect with our audience in our presentations and public speaking.

Here are 3 reasons why you can use taste to appeal to the gustatory senses in your presentations and public speaking:

1. People love food!

You don’t have to be a foodie either. It’s one of the things we all rely on to keep us alive, and we love it. Yes, sure there is the risk that the food you describe in your public speaking and stories is one that an audience member thinks ‘yuck!’ to but at least you will know you connected. If the rest of the content adds value, it won’t matter.

It doesn’t have to be food; it can be drink. Think of the opening line of Billy Joel’s epic song Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, “Bottle of white, bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose instead …”

When you appeal to your audience in this way it stimulates a different part of us and enhances our experience in public speaking.

2. Simplicity.

Referring to a snack we all know is a simple and real thing to do. It is relatable. Public speaking can also leave us feeling nostalgic.

As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Nostalgia is grossly underrated.” In other words, when we hear that song or watch that movie we first saw growing up, it takes us back there. We go all gooey!

3. It’s easy.

It really is easy to create and connect through food. In their mind, your audience is able to both see and taste instantly. All you have to do is use your words or visual aids to enable them to do so.

This is such an underused technique in public speaking. One that I learnt when becoming a Certified World Class Speaking Coach with Craig Valentine several years ago.

The technique of using food and taste to tantalise the taste buds of your audience in public speaking is a powerful one.

Use it, and have your audience wanting to taste more of your stories!

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