The Power of Visuals in a Presentation

Incorporating visuals into your presentation is not only something presenters who want to go above and beyond do; it’s practically a must, especially if you’re presenting data-heavy material. So, rather than treating visuals like an optional add-on to your core content, it helps to think of visuals as true co-stars with written and spoken words.

Not sure where to start? Here’s more on the power of visuals in a presentation.

Help Audience Understand and Retain Information

As a presenter, you want to believe audience members will leave retaining everything you said—especially because you’ve researched and practiced your presentation extensively. As difficult or frustrating as it can be to accept, people will forget a large amount of the information you tell them.

But there’s good news. Study.com cites a study that found people remembered much more information three days after a presentation if they saw visuals compared to if they only heard information. People who only heard the presentation retained about 10 percent. Those who heard and saw visuals retained approximately 65 percent! This just goes to show how significantly visuals can impact overall retention rates for your audience members.

Engage or Re-Engage Audience Attention Span

The fact of the matter is that presenters, even the most lively and compelling speakers, are working with limited audience attention spans. Sprinkling in visuals gives audience members a focus or re-focus point, meaning you’ll help them tune back into your presentation.

Let’s say your presentation is nearing the 15-minute mark. You’re beginning to see some telltale signs of losing your audience like fidgeting and unfocused gazes. Continuing to talk uninterrupted will do little to engage and re-engage viewers. But inserting something like an interactive picture poll will. Here are a handful of examples illustrating how you can utilize a picture poll to liven up your presentation in order to boost attention:

  • Create a multiple-choice poll about a certain image.

  • Create a multiple-choice poll with images as the responses.

  • Create a poll with a clickable image.

  • Create a word cloud using emojis.

In this scenario, audience members would use their mobile devices to participate in your picture poll, meaning they enjoy they not only see images but get directly involved, too.

Appeal to Visual Learners in Particular

It’s widely believed approximately 65 percent of the population falls under the category of “visual learner.” This type of learner uses pictures and graphs to visualize connections. This means without adequate visual aids, your presentation risks alienating over half of its audience right off the bat.

Show Complicated Data in a Simple Way

The concept of data visualization entails showing complicated information in a simple way. Tools like maps, charts, infographics, 3-D models and illustrations allow audience members to interpret data at a glance.

Helps Presenters Stay on Track

You’ve practiced your presentation so many times you can practically recite it forward, backward or upside down. But on the big day, your mind blanks. What was your next talking point? Without visual aids, you’re stuck onstage staring at the audience, trying to make your presentation flow without any assistance. But if you’ve included visual aids, you have something on which to focus your own attention—not to mention context clues for what you were planning to address next.

Visuals can even help calm presenters’ nerves because they shift audience focus from the person onstage to the nearby visual. Playing a video clip or analyzing a graph is a good way for speakers to gain confidence and demonstrate their mastery of the material at hand.

The moral of the story: Never underestimate the power of visuals in a presentation.

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