Your visuals can make or break your presentation.
You've probably seen it – the overhead with 30 points. The presenter that reads the entire presentation from the overhead. The chart & graph conversation...captivating. Or not so much.
Many people have now heard that your visuals should entice people to pay attention, not bore them into slumber. Yet, many speeches still contain these boring, overdone slide shows.
Why? I think the answer still lies in the comfort zone solution. When all of your information is on your overhead slides, you don't have to think. You don't have to memorize anything. Actually, you don't even have to BE THERE. Just get someone to click for you, and the audience can read their way to the knowledge you need to share.
That's easy. And boring. And forgettable.
Yes, visuals can enhance a presentation. But your visuals are NOT your presentation.
YOUR presence. YOUR stories. YOUR personality. That's what makes a presentation. It is YOU. Give your audience information, yes. But don't forget to give them YOU.
Here are 5 ways to help you remember how to use Visuals in a Presentation.
Tip #1 – Less is More
It is better to have ONE word on a screen that you elaborate on, then to have a full sentence that you simply repeat for your audience. Audience members can't read and listen at the same time, so yes, give them something SHORT to read. Then YOU continue the conversation. Allow your audience to absorb small amounts of information on a screen, then YOU add to it.
In his book, “Presenting to Win”, Jerry Weissman states “The slides or other graphics are there to support the presenter, not the other way around.” He favours bullets over sentences, and outlines that a single bullet should not be more than one line. Make sure that your viewer does not get eye fatigue. When you speak, they should be listening to you as opposed to reading your inundated slides.
Tip #2 – Visual vs Verbal
A picture IS worth 1,000 words. Can you represent what you want to talk about with a single picture? Can you make a simple graphic that requires explanation, such as a single word in a circle that fills the screen?
We see in pictures. The presenter that can talk with simply an associated picture on the screen will ALWAYS be more captivating than one who repeats words on a screen.
Can you replace words on your slide with a picture?
Tip #3 – Tell me a Story
Can you use a visual to simply introduce a story? Tease your audience with a picture, a word or 2, or even a prop that you bring in, that leads into a story.
Remember, YOU are your presentation. A story tied to a “visual teaser” will be much more memorable than just explaining points on a slide.
Tip #4 – Fill in the Blanks
Could I take your slides and deliver your presentation? If so, then you have put TOO much in your slides.
Body Language expert Mark Bowden, author of the book “Winning Body Language” advises that if someone was given your ENTIRE overhead slide package, they should not be able to present it. That is because there should be just hints of information, teases of what's to come, and should not give away your entire presentation.
If your slides tell the whole story, what do they need YOU for?
Tip #5 – Look at Your Visual First
I once purchased a Speaking course offered by 2 former Toastmaster World Champions of Public Speaking: Ryan Avery and Randy Harvey. In the video, Harvey demonstrated a delivery technique – look where you want your audience to look.
The same applies to visuals. If you want your audience to look at something, don't just point at it – look at it first. Your audience will follow what you do, so whatever visual you decide to use, look at whatever you want your audience to pay closest attention to first. When you place importance on a visual by looking at it first, your audience will follow.
Visual aids can be used in presentations. Just ensure that you use them to your benefit – and simply as what they are – an AID to your presentation, not THE presentation.
Keep Speaking, Sharing and Serving.
Kwesi Sekou Millington
Speaker & Certified Public Speaking Coach
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.