It’s true that a presentation doesn’t necessarily need to involve visuals, but we’ve found that good visual support always uplifts a presentation.
This doesn’t happen by chance. In meeting rooms and auditoriums, people visually track the presenters while listening to their stories. So this characterizes any lecture as an audiovisual event, even if the message is supported only by the behavior of the speaker. So if the audience has eyes and ears available, it simply makes no sense to ignore the visual when it can be such an impactful communication channel.
Allied to the spoken part of a presentation, visual information improves the quality of the transmitted messages, thereby increasing communication effectiveness and the success of the presenter. There are several reasons for this:
Because visual stimuli wake up the eyes and thinking and allow for the rapid transmission of concepts, visual information acts as a teaching shortcut, synthesizing ideas and accelerating the understanding of the audience. When there’s a lot of information to convey in a short time, using visual information is an excellent path to short explanations and descriptions.
Since the human eye is attracted to movement, changes and unfolding scenarios, animated images draw the viewers’ attention, triggering continuous receptivity to what’s being transmitted. If we view each slide as a new beginning, a new chance to impress and win an audience’s attention, then we have dozens of chances to recapture that audience throughout a presentation. On the one hand we have presentations that rely on good slide visuals, and on the other we have those based exclusively in speech. Drawing a parallel with the movies, the latter are the equivalent of “films” made only with narration … Would that make sense?
When representing a verbal concept by an image, the presenter is leading the audience to think visually, and this process can transform complexity into simplicity. Also, visuals themselves are a means of sending information to an audience. Some of us retain better what we hear. But far more of us retain better what we see. So by combining speech and pictures, a presenter can reach both camps.
Retention of Messages
Visual language is a way of encouraging the retention of concepts. Imagine a representative of an organic food company giving a talk to nutritionists. She can say, “Recent studies show that the high concentration of dyes in foods causes serious damage to the body, especially the skin.” But if the speaker wants to be more impactful, an image of a can of paint with a warning label – “contraindicated for meals” – can be shown. The striking image both embodies the concept and increases the chances that the audience will remember the concept later.
Just as words do, images can lead people to identify with what they see. And having an audience feel somehow related to the images being shown is the best way for that audience to “buy” the complete package, including the concepts imparted in it.
People are used to processing visual and verbal information at the same time, and quickly. The visual, in particular, is absorbed immediately, as various images appear. Interestingly, this dynamism brings comfort to the mind, as opposed to the unrest generated by the monotony of a blank screen.
Strengthening the Narrative
A sequence of images helps to shape a story, embodying a presenter’s speech. And when a story is being told, the pictures themselves can become visual narratives. In an analogy with comic books, the drawings are the slides and the speech balloons are the remarks of the presenter.
So next time you start working on a new presentation, think carefully about the visuals that can help you to best tell your story. Good visuals will always uplift a presentation!