Communicate to Win: 019 – A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

I shouldn’t need to convince you that a picture is worth 1000 words. You can demonstrate complex stories with a single, still image. One image may be more influential than a substantial amount of text. So, use pictures! This leads me to focus on second slide type—exhibit slides.

Early on in the Communicate to Win series (part 3), I noted auditory learning alone only generates a 10 percent retention level. To leverage the visual learning process and double your listeners’ retention rate, you must incorporate images. I try to do as I say, so when I deliver my presentations, I include many visuals. You need to use visuals in your presentations as well. Click here to download the slide library. This will make the process easier for you because the slide library provides numerous, pre-formatted visuals ready to support and convey your ideas.

The bottom line? Exhibit slides make cognitive processing easier for your audience. If it’s easier to understand, it’s easier to remember! Exhibit slides also provide an information-rich view at a glance—slides that, in one glance, inspire an “A-Ha” moment.

You will leverage many of the same methods we used when building text slides by using exhibit slides to demonstrate relationships that cannot readily be made clear with words alone. Here are my tips for creating exhibit slides:

  • Deliver One Idea. Present and support one idea per slide. Always leverage the logic pyramid and use one slide for each statement in the pyramid.
  • Use Talking Headers. The Talking Header rule applies to your visuals as well as your headers. It can greatly increase your slide’s effectiveness!
  • Use Labels to Avoid Clutter and Excessive Detail. Include white space to focus the viewer’s attention. Many people believe they have to fill the entire slide with a diagram, but that’s not the best technique. Continue to look at the slide library to see how to use white space to your advantage.

Avoid 3-D effects, excessive grid lines and tick marks on grids, etc. It is very tempting to incorporate these, especially if you have the latest version of PowerPoint. Stick to the basics in diagrams to communicate your messages.

Use labels instead of legends, when possible. It is always faster for a reader to look at labels rather than look at the legend and then figure out which part is which.

  • Keep It Simple. Use simple words and numbers. Make them as simple as possible. For example, use $1.4M or $1.4 million rather than writing out the entire number $1,435,356.34.
  • Make it Readable. Make the type size readable. Readability varies for presentations depending on the location and audience—small conference room versus meeting hall for example.
  • Create Visual Interest. Design the slides to be visually interesting.
  • Add Animation Sparingly. Only use animation to build the point. Again, it is very easy to want to create presentations that use all the fancy animations in PowerPoint. Don’t be tempted to make an object fly in and bounce along the top and slide into home base. Do use animations to build a point visually.

Here, I’ve addressed some basics for designing exhibit slides. Next up in the Communicate to Win series, I’ll focus on guidelines for selecting the best exhibit slide type to communicate your message.

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