We’ve been taught since forever not to judge a book by it’s cover, but that’s exactly what we do – because visual impact is immediate and gives us plenty of information very rapidly. That’s why people like to add a visual aspect to their presentations – to enhance and improve them. But do visuals actually enhance presentations? Well they can and should do if used skillfully, but research indicates that this is very often not the case.
Results of the2013 Annoying PowerPoint survey by David Pardi, (thanks to my friend GihanPerera for highlighting these interesting statistics via his recent excellent newsletter) show the top 7 greatest irritations about PowerPoint presentations are:
- The speaker read the slides to us: 72.0%
- Text so small I couldn’t read it: 50.6%
- Full sentences instead of bullet points: 48.4%
- Overly complex diagrams: 30.8%
- Poor color choice: 25.8%
- No clear purpose: 22.1%
- No flow of ideas: 21.0%
So, apart from doing the opposite of the 7 above, what can you and I do to make not just our slides, but the entire visual element of our presentation more appealing to our audiences?
The following 5 ideas – best all used together are guaranteed to give your presentation a complete facelift.
- Use simple graphs. Pie and bar charts are best, but an uncluttered flow chart also does the trick. Don’t just smash the whole lot on at once – use custom animation to bring up the bits as you introduce or explain them.
- Use maps – and watch people literally lean forward in anticipation. Actually, people love maps in presentations, because the first response is curiosity – the need to identify something familiar and get an understanding of which area it is depicting.
- Use props. No, that’s not something you lean on to keep you up, it’s an independent object that helps you to illustrate a point. It may be a ball, a toy, an item of clothing, a piece of electronic equipment or anything else. It just adds a different visual dimension. People relate easily to something practical.
- Use a flip chart. Flip charts are great for interaction, particularly brainstorming with your audience. The younger the average age in the audience, the more they want to interact and have their say. Then make sure you have 3 or 4 colour markers – to keep it interesting.
- Cut out most of your text. Yes, you can read that again. Not some – most. Most means between 51% and 90% of your text. You need just enough to highlight the main point of the slide, but if your visuals are good enough, sometimes you need no text at all – not even a heading! This may sound completely crazy – but if you have the guts to try it, you’ll be surprised!
Here’s a bonus tip. Go through your entire slide show. Look at each slide and ask yourself if the slide you’re looking at will make a difference to the outcome of the presentation. If it won’t, cut it out completely.
Now, go and put together a dazzling presentation that will thrill your audience and get the result you want! After all, isn’t that why you’ve taken the trouble to prepare a presentation?