Calvin Wilson from Andersen Corporation shared in a recent class that his boss always says visual aids should be visual, consumable, and actionable. Here is what he means:
A list of bullet points isn’t really visual. It’s just talking points. Yes, I know you see them every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Think visually. Instead of having words on the screen that you then repeat to your listeners, consider having an attractive visual that supports what you say in some way. A colorful chart that you then interpret for the listeners. An appealing photograph that you show when telling a story or explaining a concept. The visual should add a visual element to what you are saying, and should be in concert with what you are saying.
If you simply need a list of bullets for talking points, write them on a sheet of paper and have it in front of you.
We aren’t really going to eat the visuals, but we should be able to take them in and digest easily what they say. Too much detail, and we tune out. Too much technical language, and we drift off. To make sure your visuals are easily seen, make them clean and simple, with large enough fonts, and easily read from the back of the room. Walk to the back of the room and see for yourself.
Then look at each headline; does it help move your story forward, or is each one just a title? Look at your slides in slide viewer mode, and visualize the story you are telling. Does it have a clear beginning, middle and end? Does it move the viewer from point A to point B? What is the point you are making on each slide? How does it relate to the story you are telling? If it doesn’t add value, get rid of it.
What is the point, really? What do you want your audience to do, feel, think, or remember? Why is this story important to them? If it is not relevant, no amount of presentation skills will make your presentation engaging or impactful. Rethink your message and the story you are telling, and be clear in stating what you want your audience to take away.
If you make your visuals visual, consumable and actionable, I bet you will have better engagement and retention from your listeners.
Many thanks to Calvin—and his boss—for this great share.