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Powerpoint. Once a blessing for public speakers, business executives and high school teachers alike, it has since been so overused that 21% of people “would rather do their taxes than face PowerPoint,” according to a SlideRocket survey.

One of the biggest killers of any presentation is an overload of graphics and text. Think of a presentation you have seen that was full of terrible images and chunks of text. Chances are you wanted to escape!

There is a balance to be struck between using and abusing content on slides.

Social media has shown that people respond far better to visual information than just text. Graphics are also hugely beneficial for presentations, as they can communicate a message or idea really quickly. However, this doesn’t mean that you should put one in for every single slide.

How should you go about using visual content in your presentations?

Be Synchronised – Make sure that your presentations graphics always coincide with each part of your talk. Each image shout match the speech you have written for that part of your talk, so that the image enhances what you are saying, making it clearer and more memorable.

Be Subtle – Each image should also serve a purpose and complement, not overpower or detract from what you are saying. Don’t overload your presentation with flashy or unnecessary graphics and animations, or other images; they can prove distracting and be offensive to the eyes. The same goes for wacky colour schemes; choose contemporary colours that are consistent with your in-house style and use them sparingly.

Be Sparing – Remember that shoving too much data into a presentation is also redundant. Many people feel the need to include plenty of punchy facts and figures to illustrate their point, but people are highly unlikely to remember or care about stats. A nice graph may help to illustrate the point, but don’t expect your audience to remember precise figures.

Be Sincere – Great talks tell a story. If you’re structuring your presentation this way, then make sure that your images illustrate your tale. So, use a slide per point and let each image show what you are saying. In a recent blog, we talked about how Steve Jobs used powerful images to portray a point. One of the most powerful things about an image is the ability to convey an emotion – the most valuable impression you can leave with an audience.

By preparing your talk first and then creating the visual presentation around it, you’ll find it far easier to make proper use of graphics. If you’re still concerned, just put yourself in the mind-set of the viewer and you’ll begin to see whether your images enhance or obscure your message.

For a light-hearted take on what to avoid, give this hilarious comedy sketch by Don McMillan a watch: How NOT to use PowerPoint.


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