Images have influence
Look at the man depicted in the photo to the left of this post. As he looks up, I think inwardly he is looking off into the New Year. Now, I am betting on two things. First, you didn’t need me to direct your attention to the photo; you had already looked at it before you read my first sentence. Second, the image has affected your emotions. For sure, you may not have felt that he was looking to the future, but the image impacted you and you made some kind of judgment about it. To understand the influential power of images is critical for a communicator.
Visuals enhance persuasion
In 1986, 3M sponsored a study performed using university students. Various communicators of differing competency levels presented material to the subjects seeking to convince them to take a certain course of action. Speakers of average ability, who utilized visuals in their presentation, were just as persuasive as more skilled communicators who used none. The kinds of visuals used in this study are dated but the conclusion that visuals enhance a presentation’s effectiveness is still valid.
Less words is better
Unwisely, many of us dilute the power of image by flooding the slide with text. Carmine Gallo, in his book Talk Like Ted reports that the typical PowerPoint slide contains 40 words; that is way too many. Gallo contends that “cluttered slides detract from the message” and I agree. Well-chosen images have the potential to augment our narrative and strengthen engagement with our talk.
Include visual metaphors
I see greater effectiveness when I first outline my talk, and then, with the flow of the narrative established, search for images that are going to help me tell the ‘story’. In one presentation I was addressing the concept of isolation. I found via Flickr an image of Lone Tree Island and thought it would serve as a great visual metaphor. I didn’t add text to the slide other than attribution for the image. Often the pictures I source through Flickr or Google Images will need to be reworked to generate a quality slide. I am grateful to Bruce Gabrielle of Speakingppt.com who equipped me with three approaches to handle this.
So next presentation up your game by adding some images. Remember don’t hide them with text, rather let them help tell the story.by