Study shows just how much
visuals increase persuasiveness
Do you want your audience to remember more of what you say? A recent study by the Management Information Systems Research Center at the University of Minnesota and 3M found that presentations that use visual support are more persuasive than ones that don't -- 43 percent more persuasive, in fact.
The reason? Visual support helps listeners understand abstract concepts. Complex data can be organized and reduced to a graphic, chart or table to make a point clearly and concisely. Furthermore, effective visual support maintains listener interest and increases audience retention of the material being presented.
With that in mind, here are four key points to remember when designing visuals for your next presentation.
1. Color: Whenever possible, use color in your visuals. Color attracts attention, adds vitality and increases people's willingness to pay attention to your visuals. Keep your general color scheme and design consistent throughout your presentation. The background color, font style, colors and logo should be the same throughout.
2. Simplicity: Visuals should be easy to read and absorb. Follow the "one concept per visual" rule, and try not to use more than three bullets per slide. Consider putting as much text on your slide as you would on a billboard or T-shirt. And always remember to say more than you show.
3. Balance: Design your visuals to help your listeners follow their natural tendencies. Words and phrases should read left to right and top to bottom, the way audiences are used to seeing them. Don't put the title anywhere but at the top. Use arrows and other visual cues to help guide your audience immediately through the visual.
4. Evaluation: Step into an audience member's shoes. When evaluating your visuals before delivering your presentation, ask yourself these questions: Is this visual easy to absorb within five to eight seconds (the average adult attention span)? Is it clear where the eye should travel and what the listener should look at first? Does the visual hold your attention and support a key point in your overall message?
If you answer "yes" to these questions, you will be well on your way to increasing what your audience remembers -- and you'll be 43 percent more persuasive in the process!
Source: Information provided by presentation skills training company Decker Communications, 800.523.7039, 415.391.5544, www.decker.com.
* Tad Simons