The rules for creating the oral part of a great speech have remained constant for thousands of years. Great orators have always just stood and talked, enthralling their audiences with their wit and eloquence. However , there is one aspect of presenting which has undergone massive changes over the last few years. That is the use and content of the visual aids. This has radically changed most business presentations over the last few years.
Over the last ten years there has been a trend to reduce the amount of text on slides and increase the amount of high quality imagery. No doubt the growing capacity of even the smallest laptop to store and display high-resolution visuals and the availability of such images on the internet has been at least partly responsible.
Research has shown that an audience’s ability to remember what a speaker has said is greatly increased if pictures are used to illustrate the points being made. Even good old Confucius said “I hear I forget, I see I remember”. Now in the early days of PowerPoint people misinterpreted this to mean that if they displayed a slide full of bullet points their message would be better understood and remembered for longer.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. These days if you put up a slides full of bullet points your are more likely to hear yawns from the audience, and get accused of causing death by PowerPoint. The trouble is that many people just don’t know what else to do.
In this article what I am going to do is show you how to evolve your slides from paragraphs of text, to bullet points and then on to picture based slides which will have far more impact on your audience, and get them to remember what you were talking about for far longer.
Say you were giving a presentation about the three key components to a healthy lifestyle. In the old days you may have created a slide like this:
Then people started using the PowerPoint templates and with the addition of some clip art it look more like this:
As the importance of graphics becomes clearer you may have created a slide like this:
This one uses a custom template design, but although the images are now, photographs rather than clip art, most of the text is still there.
Finally, the modern approach might be to split it on to three slides, thus obeying the rule “one point – one slide”, with very little text on the slide. The onus is now on the presenter to fill in the additional information which is no longer on display.
The pictures now take up the whole screen, so the corporate template with its headings and logos has disappeared, but the audience get the full effect of the pictures. And as the old saying goes A picture is worth a thousand words.
Hopefully you would agree that seeing the three separate slides being brought up as the presenter talks about the importance of good quality food, regular exercise and good sleep, would be more effective that the initial all text slide.
My question to you is: How old are your slides? Are you still using bullet points?
I would like to gain an overall impression of how advanced people’s slide design is, as such I have a very short survey which I would like you to complete. You can find it here on Survey Monkey.
The design of visual aids has changed, if your presentations have not kept pace with modern thinking, your prospects and customers may think that your business is old fashioned too.
By Graham Young