What you see is what you get… Visual Presentations


Visual presentations are what you need

Touch, taste, hearing, sight and smell: the five senses through which we receive information about our world, and useful tools for anyone wanting to communicate a clear, powerful message. I’ll admit that integrating touch, taste or smell into a standard Presentation could be a challenge, but there’s no excuse for not making the most of both hearing and sight. Most presentations offer very little, if any, visual stimulation though.

Yes, most presentations provide slides for the audience to look at, while listening to the spoken words of the presenter. But in most cases the listening channel gets overloaded while the visual channel is under-used. Because too many presentations comprise slides full of words.

presentation blog illustration - What you see is what you get

As an audience member, when reading a presentation slide we speak the words in our heads, effectively talking to ourselves using our inner voice. Our visual channel is barely engaged at all. Worst 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? Engaging both visual and listening channels massively increases understanding and long term recall

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 get visual and work with our audiences.