If you can make presentations more visual – your audience will thank you

Our senses are “on” all the time. Touch, taste, hearing, sight and smell: the five senses through which we receive information about our world, and useful tools for to communicate clear, powerful messages. In a presentation scenario, integrating touch, taste or smell could be a challenge, but there’s zero excuse for not making the most of both hearing and sight. Most presentations offer very little, if any, visual stimulation though.

Let’s get this over with: text does not count as a visual.

Typically, the audience looks at slides while listening to the spoken words of a presenter. But in most cases there is an overload of text on a slide which results in the audience reading. When reading they are actually “listening” to themselves speak. We talk about brain channels – and this listening channel quickly gets overloaded in this scenario as the audience listens to both themselves read, and the presenter speak. Meanwhile the visual channel is under-used. Basically, a text led presentation is a brain disaster.

Make presentations more visual

Address the senses correctly – use Visual presentations

Worse still, most people read much faster than they speak, so our inner voice and the external voice of the presenter will be occurring simultaneously, but will be out of sync… audience’s will be struggling with a confusing dual input audio stream.

However, if a presentation addresses the visual channel properly, the audience has a much better experience as well as understanding and remembering better. Scientific research has shown that when both the visual and listening channels are properly engaged, retention of information improves 6 fold, when compared to information delivered without any visuals at all. So…how do we achieve this? Simply we must engage both visual and listening channels to increase understanding and long term recall.

Tip 1 to make presentations more visual:

Switch your blocks of text for clear, relevant images or use alternative layouts to avoid bullets. Your audience can then look at the slide presentation and listen to the presenter without feeling overloaded. The visual should clarify your words, increasing understanding and boosting the chances of long term recall.

The visual doesn’t need to be a work of art, but it does need to support your verbal message clearly and directly. A confusing or irrelevant image will distract or mislead your audience, so take some time to think of what will best illuminate your words. A picture really can speak a thousand words…so let’s make our presentations more visual and work with our audiences.

Tip 2 to make presentations more visual:

Use the Notes Area in PowerPoint to store that additional information you wanted to share. And then share some designed Notes Pages afterwards.

More tips? Chat to us and find out how neuroscience can benefit your presentation.