Sunday, February 24, 2008

13 Ways to Make Your Visuals More Riveting

Want to keep your audience from taking a snooze while you make your next presentation?  Give them something they're not expecting.  Give them better visuals.

With stronger visuals to reinforce your message you'll keep your listeners tuned in and energized.  Plus studies show

Skeptical?  Dont' take my word for it.  ebay recently reported that auctions which feature a picture of the item up for sale yield a 400% increase in bidding.  Let's face it.  We're visual creatures and we want to see what we're buying.

So here are 13 ways to make your visual aids more riveting.

  1. Use more pictures.  Your audience can't get enough of them.  Words are forgotten, but pictures linger.
  2. Delete clip art from your computer.  These images are overused and often cheesy.  You can do better.
  3. Use unexpected images.  Strive to find relevant, creative pictures...for instance, use a picture of stampeding wild horses to illustrate market forces that your business can no longer deny.
  4. Take your own pictures.  You'd be amazed at the cool things right in front of your eyes, like the FedEx drop box in my local U.S. Post Office.  Strange bedfellows indeed.  How many points could a picture like this make in a presentation?
  5. Go low tech.  Draw your visuals on a flip chart.  When you actively create a picture on a flip chart it's kinetic and it draws in your audience.  And you don't have to be a Picasso, just keep your images simple.
  6. Use more graphs and charts.  The only thing you have to remember here is to be sure to match up the right kind of chart/graph with the information you're trying to convey.  For more on this, check out Gene Zelazny's classic "Say It with Charts."
  7. Write and draw on top of your Powerpoint slides.  In slide show mode, you can turn your cursor into a pen by pressing Cntl+P.  Then you're free to circle key words, "x" out a number you'd like to change or compare two parts of a graph.
  8. Use props and demonstrations.  Slice up an apple to show budget allocations or roll a pair of dice to illustrate a potentially risky move or smash a cheap watch to reinforce wasted time. 
  9. Paint a picture in the minds of your audience.  There's a Chinese proverb that says "the mind paints what the eye cannot see."  Remember "The Blair Witch Project" from the mid-90s?  Part of what made the movie so scary was the fact that the director never showed the witch on screen.  Our mental image of what the witch might look like was immeasurably more frightening than anything Hollywood could have showed us.
  10. Use color in your PowerPoint bullet slides.  Call out key words and phrases with color to focus your audience's attention on the ideas you want to drive home.
  11. Use the pre-set graphics in PowerPoint to jazz up your text.  For example, show a 3-step process in three boxes with arrows or illustrate the importance of your customers by putting them at the hub of a wheel with key attributes as spokes.  You get the idea.
  12. Use video.  We live in a YouTube world.  Let video enhance your ideas.
  13. Don't use PowerPoint at all.  (Gasp!)  This would be a really unexpected move.  And, it would force your audience to focus only on you and your message.  That's a good thing.  You'll connect more deeply with them and have a better chance of success.
Try out some of these and see what reaction you get.  Don't be surprised if members of your audience come up and embrace you openly.

Happy speaking,

Steve Hughes
Speaker - Trainer - Kodak Guy

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