How to create interesting visuals that keep your audience alive!

engage your audience with effective visuals

‘Death by PowerPoint – is alive and well and no doubt, like me, you have had to sit through boring meetings with pointless slides!  

When clients want help with their presentations, their choice of slides can make or break a presentation.  If done correctly, slides can add clarity and enhance the content of your presentation.  In fact,  according to research presented in the brilliant book ‘Brain Rules’ by Dr. John Medina – three days after a presentation, most people only remember approximately 10% of what they heard. However, if you add a picture, recall shoots up to 65%.

Presentation slides can be an effective visual tool to amply your message.  Slides can help improve information clarity and retention.

Firstly, work on your presentation, perfect this first, then turn to your slides.  When you have a firm structure to your presentation; have tweaked the content and you have aced the delivery – you can then ‘dress’ it with appropriate slides that are effective.

When you have crafted your presentation, create a storyboard – this helps to map out your presentation…. Grab some post-its and let each post-it represents a slide in your presentation.  Now quickly sketch a visual representation of your idea.   As much as possible, avoid using text and instead try to represent your idea visually because visuals are much more interesting, engaging and memorable than text.  This visual representation could be charts, photos, graphs or pictures.

Fill up your slides with large pictures and very little or no text. Use the images to serve as visual anchors for what you are saying.   A visual anchor – that is, it hooks the point you are making to your listener’s memory.

Slides are a visual aid – they should do exactly that – aid your audience’s understanding of the topic. Your images should help your audience understand your topic better. For example, if you are describing a very complicated process, then using an image of the process is a good idea to make it easier for your audience to understand what you are saying.

An image is worth a thousand words, may be a cliché, though it’s true. Usually, a single image will convey an idea better than several paragraphs of text. When creating your slides, ask yourself, “Can what I am trying to say be demonstrated visually using a picture?” If it can, then ditch the text and use an image instead.

Keep in mind the 3 second rule.  Your image should be large enough to grab your audience’s attention and they should understand the slide within 3 seconds of looking at it.

What if you need to add in a few words – when you decide on which words, then choose your font carefully. The different shapes and sizes of fonts give the fonts different personalities, and these personalities affect the audience’s emotions on an unconscious level.  The font types are an essential element that adds to the overall visual appeal of your presentation.  What response are you looking to achieve?

Simplicity and consistency are the keys to a good presentation.   A good rule of thumb is to stick to two fonts, one for titles and the other for subheading.

With your font size – take into consideration the size of the room and audience.  Make sure the person sitting at the back of the room can easily read your slide.  Varying font sizes ensures an interesting presentation though limiting each slide to show two different font sizes is usually enough.

People pay attention to uncommon things, and rotated texts are definitely uncommon. Consider adding a slight rotation to your text, if it fits with your message and it can make your text more exciting.

Consider the venue where you will be delivering your presentation.  If you are delivering in a dimly lit room, a dark background with contrasting bright images and fonts works best.  If you are delivering in a bright room, use a light background with dark images and fonts.

Slides are very useful for displaying graphs, charts and other types of data. One powerful way to make your statistics even more interesting is to combine them with pictures.  In this way, it makes the slide more visually appealing; helps the audience interpret the significance and meaning of the statistic and makes the statistic more memorable.  However, keep it to one statistic per slide!

Hit the B key so your laptop and the screen will blank the screen, use it when audience does not need to look at the screen.

Have fun designing your slides though keep in mind these guidelines!

For more tips on presentations, click here