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Blog Graphic Design

15 Effective Visual Presentation Tips To Wow Your Audience

By Krystle Wong , Sep 28, 2023

Visual Presentation Tips

So, you’re gearing up for that big presentation and you want it to be more than just another snooze-fest with slides. You want it to be engaging, memorable and downright impressive. 

Well, you’ve come to the right place — I’ve got some slick tips on how to create a visual presentation that’ll take your presentation game up a notch. 

Packed with presentation templates that are easily customizable, keep reading this blog post to learn the secret sauce behind crafting presentations that captivate, inform and remain etched in the memory of your audience.

Click to jump ahead:

What is a visual presentation & why is it important?

15 effective tips to make your visual presentations more engaging, 6 major types of visual presentation you should know , what are some common mistakes to avoid in visual presentations, visual presentation faqs, 5 steps to create a visual presentation with venngage.

A visual presentation is a communication method that utilizes visual elements such as images, graphics, charts, slides and other visual aids to convey information, ideas or messages to an audience. 

Visual presentations aim to enhance comprehension engagement and the overall impact of the message through the strategic use of visuals. People remember what they see, making your point last longer in their heads. 

Without further ado, let’s jump right into some great visual presentation examples that would do a great job in keeping your audience interested and getting your point across.

In today’s fast-paced world, where information is constantly bombarding our senses, creating engaging visual presentations has never been more crucial. To help you design a presentation that’ll leave a lasting impression, I’ve compiled these examples of visual presentations that will elevate your game.

1. Use the rule of thirds for layout

Ever heard of the rule of thirds? It’s a presentation layout trick that can instantly up your slide game. Imagine dividing your slide into a 3×3 grid and then placing your text and visuals at the intersection points or along the lines. This simple tweak creates a balanced and seriously pleasing layout that’ll draw everyone’s eyes.

2. Get creative with visual metaphors

Got a complex idea to explain? Skip the jargon and use visual metaphors. Throw in images that symbolize your point – for example, using a road map to show your journey towards a goal or using metaphors to represent answer choices or progress indicators in an interactive quiz or poll.

3. Visualize your data with charts and graphs

The right data visualization tools not only make content more appealing but also aid comprehension and retention. Choosing the right visual presentation for your data is all about finding a good match. 

For ordinal data, where things have a clear order, consider using ordered bar charts or dot plots. When it comes to nominal data, where categories are on an equal footing, stick with the classics like bar charts, pie charts or simple frequency tables. And for interval-ratio data, where there’s a meaningful order, go for histograms, line graphs, scatterplots or box plots to help your data shine.

In an increasingly visual world, effective visual communication is a valuable skill for conveying messages. Here’s a guide on how to use visual communication to engage your audience while avoiding information overload.

visual presentation can be made effective

4. Employ the power of contrast

Want your important stuff to pop? That’s where contrast comes in. Mix things up with contrasting colors, fonts or shapes. It’s like highlighting your key points with a neon marker – an instant attention grabber.

5. Tell a visual story

Structure your slides like a storybook and create a visual narrative by arranging your slides in a way that tells a story. Each slide should flow into the next, creating a visual narrative that keeps your audience hooked till the very end.

Icons and images are essential for adding visual appeal and clarity to your presentation. Venngage provides a vast library of icons and images, allowing you to choose visuals that resonate with your audience and complement your message. 

visual presentation can be made effective

6. Show the “before and after” magic

Want to drive home the impact of your message or solution? Whip out the “before and after” technique. Show the current state (before) and the desired state (after) in a visual way. It’s like showing a makeover transformation, but for your ideas.

7. Add fun with visual quizzes and polls

To break the monotony and see if your audience is still with you, throw in some quick quizzes or polls. It’s like a mini-game break in your presentation — your audience gets involved and it makes your presentation way more dynamic and memorable.

8. End with a powerful visual punch

Your presentation closing should be a showstopper. Think a stunning clip art that wraps up your message with a visual bow, a killer quote that lingers in minds or a call to action that gets hearts racing.

visual presentation can be made effective

9. Engage with storytelling through data

Use storytelling magic to bring your data to life. Don’t just throw numbers at your audience—explain what they mean, why they matter and add a bit of human touch. Turn those stats into relatable tales and watch your audience’s eyes light up with understanding.

visual presentation can be made effective

10. Use visuals wisely

Your visuals are the secret sauce of a great presentation. Cherry-pick high-quality images, graphics, charts and videos that not only look good but also align with your message’s vibe. Each visual should have a purpose – they’re not just there for decoration. 

11. Utilize visual hierarchy

Employ design principles like contrast, alignment and proximity to make your key info stand out. Play around with fonts, colors and placement to make sure your audience can’t miss the important stuff.

12. Engage with multimedia

Static slides are so last year. Give your presentation some sizzle by tossing in multimedia elements. Think short video clips, animations or a touch of sound when it makes sense. But remember, these are sidekicks, not the main act, so use them smartly.

13. Interact with your audience

Turn your presentation into a two-way street. Start your presentation by encouraging your audience to join in with thought-provoking questions, quick polls or using interactive tools. Get them chatting and watch your presentation come alive.

visual presentation can be made effective

When it comes to delivering a group presentation, it’s important to have everyone on the team on the same page. Venngage’s real-time collaboration tools enable you and your team to work together seamlessly, regardless of geographical locations. Collaborators can provide input, make edits and offer suggestions in real time. 

14. Incorporate stories and examples

Weave in relatable stories, personal anecdotes or real-life examples to illustrate your points. It’s like adding a dash of spice to your content – it becomes more memorable and relatable.

15. Nail that delivery

Don’t just stand there and recite facts like a robot — be a confident and engaging presenter. Lock eyes with your audience, mix up your tone and pace and use some gestures to drive your points home. Practice and brush up your presentation skills until you’ve got it down pat for a persuasive presentation that flows like a pro.

Venngage offers a wide selection of professionally designed presentation templates, each tailored for different purposes and styles. By choosing a template that aligns with your content and goals, you can create a visually cohesive and polished presentation that captivates your audience.

Looking for more presentation ideas ? Why not try using a presentation software that will take your presentations to the next level with a combination of user-friendly interfaces, stunning visuals, collaboration features and innovative functionalities that will take your presentations to the next level. 

Visual presentations come in various formats, each uniquely suited to convey information and engage audiences effectively. Here are six major types of visual presentations that you should be familiar with:

1. Slideshows or PowerPoint presentations

Slideshows are one of the most common forms of visual presentations. They typically consist of a series of slides containing text, images, charts, graphs and other visual elements. Slideshows are used for various purposes, including business presentations, educational lectures and conference talks.

visual presentation can be made effective

2. Infographics

Infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge. They combine text, images and graphics to convey complex concepts or data in a concise and visually appealing manner. Infographics are often used in marketing, reporting and educational materials.

Don’t worry, they are also super easy to create thanks to Venngage’s fully customizable infographics templates that are professionally designed to bring your information to life. Be sure to try it out for your next visual presentation!

visual presentation can be made effective

3. Video presentation

Videos are your dynamic storytellers. Whether it’s pre-recorded or happening in real-time, videos are the showstoppers. You can have interviews, demos, animations or even your own mini-documentary. Video presentations are highly engaging and can be shared in both in-person and virtual presentations .

4. Charts and graphs

Charts and graphs are visual representations of data that make it easier to understand and analyze numerical information. Common types include bar charts, line graphs, pie charts and scatterplots. They are commonly used in scientific research, business reports and academic presentations.

Effective data visualizations are crucial for simplifying complex information and Venngage has got you covered. Venngage’s tools enable you to create engaging charts, graphs,and infographics that enhance audience understanding and retention, leaving a lasting impression in your presentation.

visual presentation can be made effective

5. Interactive presentations

Interactive presentations involve audience participation and engagement. These can include interactive polls, quizzes, games and multimedia elements that allow the audience to actively participate in the presentation. Interactive presentations are often used in workshops, training sessions and webinars.

Venngage’s interactive presentation tools enable you to create immersive experiences that leave a lasting impact and enhance audience retention. By incorporating features like clickable elements, quizzes and embedded multimedia, you can captivate your audience’s attention and encourage active participation.

6. Poster presentations

Poster presentations are the stars of the academic and research scene. They consist of a large poster that includes text, images and graphics to communicate research findings or project details and are usually used at conferences and exhibitions. For more poster ideas, browse through Venngage’s gallery of poster templates to inspire your next presentation.

visual presentation can be made effective

Different visual presentations aside, different presentation methods also serve a unique purpose, tailored to specific objectives and audiences. Find out which type of presentation works best for the message you are sending across to better capture attention, maintain interest and leave a lasting impression. 

To make a good presentation , it’s crucial to be aware of common mistakes and how to avoid them. Without further ado, let’s explore some of these pitfalls along with valuable insights on how to sidestep them.

Overloading slides with text

Text heavy slides can be like trying to swallow a whole sandwich in one bite – overwhelming and unappetizing. Instead, opt for concise sentences and bullet points to keep your slides simple. Visuals can help convey your message in a more engaging way.

Using low-quality visuals

Grainy images and pixelated charts are the equivalent of a scratchy vinyl record at a DJ party. High-resolution visuals are your ticket to professionalism. Ensure that the images, charts and graphics you use are clear, relevant and sharp.

Choosing the right visuals for presentations is important. To find great visuals for your visual presentation, Browse Venngage’s extensive library of high-quality stock photos. These images can help you convey your message effectively, evoke emotions and create a visually pleasing narrative. 

Ignoring design consistency

Imagine a book with every chapter in a different font and color – it’s a visual mess. Consistency in fonts, colors and formatting throughout your presentation is key to a polished and professional look.

Reading directly from slides

Reading your slides word-for-word is like inviting your audience to a one-person audiobook session. Slides should complement your speech, not replace it. Use them as visual aids, offering key points and visuals to support your narrative.

Lack of visual hierarchy

Neglecting visual hierarchy is like trying to find Waldo in a crowd of clones. Use size, color and positioning to emphasize what’s most important. Guide your audience’s attention to key points so they don’t miss the forest for the trees.

Ignoring accessibility

Accessibility isn’t an option these days; it’s a must. Forgetting alt text for images, color contrast and closed captions for videos can exclude individuals with disabilities from understanding your presentation. 

Relying too heavily on animation

While animations can add pizzazz and draw attention, overdoing it can overshadow your message. Use animations sparingly and with purpose to enhance, not detract from your content.

Using jargon and complex language

Keep it simple. Use plain language and explain terms when needed. You want your message to resonate, not leave people scratching their heads.

Not testing interactive elements

Interactive elements can be the life of your whole presentation, but not testing them beforehand is like jumping into a pool without checking if there’s water. Ensure that all interactive features, from live polls to multimedia content, work seamlessly. A smooth experience keeps your audience engaged and avoids those awkward technical hiccups.

Presenting complex data and information in a clear and visually appealing way has never been easier with Venngage. Build professional-looking designs with our free visual chart slide templates for your next presentation.

What software or tools can I use to create visual presentations?

You can use various software and tools to create visual presentations, including Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, Adobe Illustrator, Canva, Prezi and Venngage, among others.

What is the difference between a visual presentation and a written report?

The main difference between a visual presentation and a written report is the medium of communication. Visual presentations rely on visuals, such as slides, charts and images to convey information quickly, while written reports use text to provide detailed information in a linear format.

How do I effectively communicate data through visual presentations?

To effectively communicate data through visual presentations, simplify complex data into easily digestible charts and graphs, use clear labels and titles and ensure that your visuals support the key messages you want to convey.

Are there any accessibility considerations for visual presentations?

Accessibility considerations for visual presentations include providing alt text for images, ensuring good color contrast, using readable fonts and providing transcripts or captions for multimedia content to make the presentation inclusive.

Most design tools today make accessibility hard but Venngage’s Accessibility Design Tool comes with accessibility features baked in, including accessible-friendly and inclusive icons.

How do I choose the right visuals for my presentation?

Choose visuals that align with your content and message. Use charts for data, images for illustrating concepts, icons for emphasis and color to evoke emotions or convey themes.

What is the role of storytelling in visual presentations?

Storytelling plays a crucial role in visual presentations by providing a narrative structure that engages the audience, helps them relate to the content and makes the information more memorable.

How can I adapt my visual presentations for online or virtual audiences?

To adapt visual presentations for online or virtual audiences, focus on concise content, use engaging visuals, ensure clear audio, encourage audience interaction through chat or polls and rehearse for a smooth online delivery.

What is the role of data visualization in visual presentations?

Data visualization in visual presentations simplifies complex data by using charts, graphs and diagrams, making it easier for the audience to understand and interpret information.

How do I choose the right color scheme and fonts for my visual presentation?

Choose a color scheme that aligns with your content and brand and select fonts that are readable and appropriate for the message you want to convey.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my visual presentation?

Measure the effectiveness of your visual presentation by collecting feedback from the audience, tracking engagement metrics (e.g., click-through rates for online presentations) and evaluating whether the presentation achieved its intended objectives.

Ultimately, creating a memorable visual presentation isn’t just about throwing together pretty slides. It’s about mastering the art of making your message stick, captivating your audience and leaving a mark.

Lucky for you, Venngage simplifies the process of creating great presentations, empowering you to concentrate on delivering a compelling message. Follow the 5 simple steps below to make your entire presentation visually appealing and impactful:

1. Sign up and log In: Log in to your Venngage account or sign up for free and gain access to Venngage’s templates and design tools.

2. Choose a template: Browse through Venngage’s presentation template library and select one that best suits your presentation’s purpose and style. Venngage offers a variety of pre-designed templates for different types of visual presentations, including infographics, reports, posters and more.

3. Edit and customize your template: Replace the placeholder text, image and graphics with your own content and customize the colors, fonts and visual elements to align with your presentation’s theme or your organization’s branding.

4. Add visual elements: Venngage offers a wide range of visual elements, such as icons, illustrations, charts, graphs and images, that you can easily add to your presentation with the user-friendly drag-and-drop editor.

5. Save and export your presentation: Export your presentation in a format that suits your needs and then share it with your audience via email, social media or by embedding it on your website or blog.

So, as you gear up for your next presentation, whether it’s for business, education or pure creative expression, don’t forget to keep these visual presentation ideas in your back pocket.

Feel free to experiment and fine-tune your approach and let your passion and expertise shine through in your presentation. With practice, you’ll not only build presentations but also leave a lasting impact on your audience – one slide at a time.

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What Are Effective Presentation Skills (and How to Improve Them)

Presentation skills are essential for your personal and professional life. Learn about effective presentations and how to boost your presenting techniques.

[Featured Image]: The marketing manager, wearing a yellow top, is making a PowerPoint presentation.

At least seven out of 10 Americans agree that presentation skills are essential for a successful career [ 1 ]. Although it might be tempting to think that these are skills reserved for people interested in public speaking roles, they're critical in a diverse range of jobs. For example, you might need to brief your supervisor on research results.

Presentation skills are also essential in other scenarios, including working with a team and explaining your thought process, walking clients through project ideas and timelines, and highlighting your strengths and achievements to your manager during performance reviews.

Whatever the scenario, you have very little time to capture your audience’s attention and get your point across when presenting information—about three seconds, according to research [ 2 ]. Effective presentation skills help you get your point across and connect with the people you’re communicating with, which is why nearly every employer requires them.

Understanding what presentation skills are is only half the battle. Honing your presenting techniques is essential for mastering presentations of all kinds and in all settings.

What are presentation skills?

Presentation skills are the abilities and qualities necessary for creating and delivering a compelling presentation that effectively communicates information and ideas. They encompass what you say, how you structure it, and the materials you include to support what you say, such as slides, videos, or images.

You'll make presentations at various times in your life. Examples include:

Making speeches at a wedding, conference, or another event

Making a toast at a dinner or event

Explaining projects to a team 

Delivering results and findings to management teams

Teaching people specific methods or information

Proposing a vote at community group meetings

Pitching a new idea or business to potential partners or investors

Why are presentation skills important? 

Delivering effective presentations is critical in your professional and personal life. You’ll need to hone your presentation skills in various areas, such as when giving a speech, convincing your partner to make a substantial purchase, and talking to friends and family about an important situation.

No matter if you’re using them in a personal or professional setting, these are the skills that make it easier and more effective to convey your ideas, convince or persuade others, and experience success. A few of the benefits that often accompany improving your presentation skills include:

Enriched written and verbal communication skills

Enhanced confidence and self-image

Boosted critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities

Better motivational techniques

Increased leadership skills

Expanded time management, negotiation, and creativity

The better your presenting techniques, the more engaging your presentations will be. You could also have greater opportunities to make positive impacts in business and other areas of your life.

Effective presentation skills

Imagine yourself in the audience at a TED Talk or sitting with your coworkers at a big meeting held by your employer. What would you be looking for in how they deliver their message? What would make you feel engaged?

These are a few questions to ask yourself as you review this list of some of the most effective presentation skills.

Verbal communication

How you use language and deliver messages play essential roles in how your audience will receive your presentation. Speak clearly and confidently, projecting your voice enough to ensure everyone can hear. Think before you speak, pausing when necessary and tailoring the way you talk to resonate with your particular audience.

Body language

Body language combines various critical elements, including posture, gestures, eye contact, expressions, and position in front of the audience. Body language is one of the elements that can instantly transform a presentation that would otherwise be dull into one that's dynamic and interesting.

Voice projection

The ability to project your voice improves your presentation by allowing your audience to hear what you're saying. It also increases your confidence to help settle any lingering nerves while also making your message more engaging. To project your voice, stand comfortably with your shoulders back. Take deep breaths to power your speaking voice and ensure you enunciate every syllable you speak.

How you present yourself plays a role in your body language and ability to project your voice. It also sets the tone for the presentation. Avoid slouching or looking overly tense. Instead, remain open, upright, and adaptable while taking the formality of the occasion into account.


Incorporating storytelling into a presentation is an effective strategy used by many powerful public speakers. It has the power to bring your subject to life and pique the audience’s curiosity. Don’t be afraid to tell a personal story, slowly building up suspense or adding a dramatic moment. And, of course, be sure to end with a positive takeaway to drive your point home.

Active listening

Active listening is a valuable skill all on its own. When you understand and thoughtfully respond to what you hear—whether it's in a conversation or during a presentation—you’ll likely deepen your personal relationships and actively engage audiences during a presentation. As part of your presentation skill set, it helps catch and maintain the audience’s attention, helping them remain focused while minimizing passive response, ensuring the message is delivered correctly, and encouraging a call to action.

Stage presence

During a presentation, projecting confidence can help keep your audience engaged. Stage presence can help you connect with your audience and encourage them to want to watch you. To improve your presence, try amping up your normal demeanor by infusing it with a bit of enthusiasm. Project confidence and keep your information interesting.

Watch your audience as you’re presenting. If you’re holding their attention, it likely means you’re connecting well with them.


Monitoring your own emotions and reactions will allow you to react well in various situations. It helps you remain personable throughout your presentation and handle feedback well. Self-awareness can help soothe nervousness during presentations, allowing you to perform more effectively.

Writing skills

Writing is a form of presentation. Sharp writing skills can help you master your presentation’s outline to ensure you stay on message and remain clear about your objectives from the beginning until the end. It’s also helpful to have strong writing abilities for creating compelling slides and other visual aids.

Understanding an audience

When you understand your audience's needs and interests, you can design your presentation around them. In turn, you'll deliver maximum value to them and enhance your ability to make your message easy to understand.

Learn more about presentation skills from industry experts at SAP:

How to improve presentation skills

There’s an art to public speaking. Just like any other type of art, this is one that requires practice. Improving your presentation skills will help reduce miscommunications, enhance your time management capabilities, and boost your leadership skills. Here are some ways you can improve these skills:

Work on self-confidence.

When you’re confident, you naturally speak more clearly and with more authority. Taking the time to prepare your presentation with a strong opening and compelling visual aids can help you feel more confident. Other ways to improve your self-confidence include practicing positive self-talk, surrounding yourself with positive people, and avoiding comparing yourself (or your presentation) to others.

Develop strategies for overcoming fear.

Many people are nervous or fearful before giving a presentation. A bad memory of a past performance or insufficient self-confidence can contribute to fear and anxiety. Having a few go-to strategies like deep breathing, practicing your presentation, and grounding can help you transform that fear into extra energy to put into your stage presence.

Learn grounding techniques.

Grounding is any type of technique that helps you steer your focus away from distressing thoughts and keeps you connected with your present self. To ground yourself, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and imagine you’re a large, mature tree with roots extending deep into the earth—like the tree, you can become unshakable.

Learn how to use presentation tools.

Visual aids and other technical support can transform an otherwise good presentation into a wow-worthy one. A few popular presentation tools include:

Canva: Provides easy-to-design templates you can customize

Powtoon: Animation software that makes video creation fast and easy

PowerPoint: Microsoft's iconic program popular for dynamic marketing and sales presentations

Practice breathing techniques.

Breathing techniques can help quell anxiety, making it easier to shake off pre-presentation jitters and nerves. It also helps relax your muscles and get more oxygen to your brain.  For some pre-presentation calmness, you can take deep breaths, slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

While presenting, breathe in through your mouth with the back of your tongue relaxed so your audience doesn't hear a gasping sound. Speak on your exhalation, maintaining a smooth voice.

Gain experience.

The more you practice, the better you’ll become. The more you doanything, the more comfortable you’ll feel engaging in that activity. Presentations are no different. Repeatedly practicing your own presentation also offers the opportunity to get feedback from other people and tweak your style and content as needed.

Tips to help you ace your presentation

Your presentation isn’t about you; it’s about the material you’re presenting. Sometimes, reminding yourself of this ahead of taking center stage can help take you out of your head, allowing you to connect effectively with your audience. The following are some of the many actions you can take on the day of your presentation.

Arrive early.

Since you may have a bit of presentation-related anxiety, it’s important to avoid adding travel stress. Give yourself an abundance of time to arrive at your destination, and take into account heavy traffic and other unforeseen events. By arriving early, you also give yourself time to meet with any on-site technicians, test your equipment, and connect with people ahead of the presentation.

Become familiar with the layout of the room.

Arriving early also gives you time to assess the room and figure out where you want to stand. Experiment with the acoustics to determine how loudly you need to project your voice, and test your equipment to make sure everything connects and appears properly with the available setup. This is an excellent opportunity to work out any last-minute concerns and move around to familiarize yourself with the setting for improved stage presence.

Listen to presenters ahead of you.

When you watch others present, you'll get a feel for the room's acoustics and lighting. You can also listen for any data that’s relevant to your presentation and revisit it during your presentation—this can make the presentation more interactive and engaging.

Use note cards.

Writing yourself a script could provide you with more comfort. To prevent sounding too robotic or disengaged, only include talking points in your note cards in case you get off track. Using note cards can help keep your presentation organized while sounding more authentic to your audience.

Learn to deliver clear and confident presentations with Dynamic Public Speaking from the University of Washington. Build confidence, develop new delivery techniques, and practice strategies for crafting compelling presentations for different purposes, occasions, and audiences.

Article sources

Forbes. “ New Survey: 70% Say Presentation Skills are Critical for Career Success , https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/09/25/new-survey-70-percent-say-presentation-skills-critical-for-career-success/?sh=619f3ff78890.” Accessed December 7, 2022.

Beautiful.ai. “ 15 Presentation and Public Speaking Stats You Need to Know , https://www.beautiful.ai/blog/15-presentation-and-public-speaking-stats-you-need-to-know. Accessed December 7, 2022.

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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Presentation Geeks

Engage your audience with powerful visual presentations.

Visual tools are critical to have in any presentation as they’re one of the key presentation aids that will help enhance your overall presentation .

We’ll give you tips on how to develop a sense of good presentation design whether you’re using PowerPoint, Prezi, Google Slides or any presentation software under the sun. The secret to creating a great presentation does not lie in a superior software, but understanding a few universal design concepts that can applied for all types of visual presentations.

Don’t be afraid to use a few presentation templates – there are ways to make the presentation ideas in those templates your own ideas and advance it in several different ways. Let’s make your next presentation on point and designed beautifully.

Presentations Are The Visual Communication Tool To Your Story

visual presentation can be made effective

In the age of information, people remember facts faster through stories. Keep your bullet points and information short. You can use a rule of thumb to not put more than a paragraph and 3 points per slide to start.

Make your presentation the visual component of your story, but not something your audience has to read. Something that is short and succinct on screen will capture your audience’s attention and make sure they retain the main points of your message.

This does not mean incomplete slides. A common mistake presenters make is putting too little information on a slide in the name of simplicity when in fact they’re leaving out the main context.

A well designed visual presentation has a great story behind it and a well rehearsed voice telling it as well. Engaging the audience is also a great way to associate meaning or connection to the content of your slide decks. Ask questions and tell stories while showing off a great visual presentation! Think of writing the copy like writing for social media – you only have a certain amount of characters to use and a short audience attention span.

General Tips For Visual Presentations

visual presentation can be made effective

Before you begin creating your presentation, you first need to know what makes effective presentations – storytelling. Such presentations target the audience’s emotions leading to a stronger connection to the audience member and the main point of the presentation.

Below are some storytelling tips for your slides, but remember to keep the presentation itself simple and practice makes perfect. And again, these are more for your spoken component that accompanies the visual component. These tips can be useful because they can be applied to all your presentations in general.

Step 1 is to ask yourself who your audience is and how to convey the key message you have in mind to them. Once you settle on your message, you can start designing your slides with that direction in mind.

You may wonder how to connect with an audience with your slides. Look to your own experiences, your own speaking style and tailor your message to what you know. Not many people want to hear others recite facts with no real meaning driving the story. Ask yourself, “Why does this matter to the audience and why should they care?”.

There is a lot of trust that can be built when the audience has a genuine connection to the presenter. Overall, if you have something that can solve a problem or teach someone complex things, that is enough to form a connection with your audience.

Think of the last app you used, the last email you read or perhaps the last business you purchased from. What was the content or visual elements that pulled you in?

Are you making a PowerPoint, Prezi or other form of visual presentation but it’s taking too much of your time? Enlist the help of Presentation Geeks and consider outsourcing your presentation design . Outsourcing your presentation slides allows you to free more of your time while still getting the results of an interesting presentation. You’ll have the support of expert slide designers who know what presentation visuals work and don’t work thanks to years of presentation feedback and background knowledge.

Color Design Tips For Presentation Slides

When designing your presentation, make sure you take into consideration the colors you’re using. We’ve listed a few background color combinations you might want to consider when developing the overall slide deck and the font to use.

Color Wheel Alignments:

visual presentation can be made effective

Primary Colors: Red, yellow, blue

Secondary Colors: Green, orange, purple

Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green

Analogous Colors: These are any three colors which are side by side on a color wheel. (Think green, lime green, yellow)

Complementary Colors: These are colors that are directly opposite of a color wheel. (Think green vs. purple, red vs. blue)

Monochromatic Colors: This is when you use one color and various shades or hues of it. It works well for minimal looks.

Color moods:

Red/Orange/Yellow: Generally these convey a sense of energy, are warm colors and catch your attention. Yellow is a happy warm color on one end and red is very striking and can warn of danger, and symbolizes importance, passion and sometimes violence.

Blue/Purple/Green: These colors are calming, reserved, elegant and often used for corporate slides. Think of how indigo blue is used for many large corporate entities. Green often is branded with earth or medical brands. Purple often conveys a sense of royalty, money and creativity.

Use The Power Of Photography Or Video

visual presentation can be made effective

Pictures and videos are great visuals to incorporate into any presentation. Remember the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, it’s true! Photos help visualize complex information. You’ll often come across a lot of photos in research presentations as they help the audience understand examples better.

They can also save you from having to put a thousand thoughts into the PowerPoint presentation slide!

The first tip we can give to make a great visual presentation is to choose all your photos before you start. This way you can keep the consistency of the images across your slide deck and make sure they’re somewhat alike in terms of composition, mood and brand.

Use free stock photos

You don’t have to take the photos or videos yourself.

There are plenty of free resources and web pages for stock photos online – Unsplash , Pexels , Pixabay , Free Range , Creative Commons and some photos from Freepik are free to use with some accreditation.

Effective photo use

Make sure you pick an image that will focus on the main theme of the slide. One image is usually enough if the image choice is very relevant to the slide. If you have multiple photos, avoid poor or loose placement of photos all over the slide. Try to use a grid or gallery placement and it will immediately enhance the layout of the slide.

If you pick great images, making presentations can be faster. Instead of having to create an elaborate template with multiple elements, a photo with a couple of bullet points can go a long way in terms of capturing attention and making your presentation slides look professional. This is true on any presentation design platform – whether its PowerPoint, Google Slides, etc.

visual presentation can be made effective

You can also embed videos whether they’re located on your computer, YouTube, Vimeo or other major video streaming sites. If you’re feeling nervous about your presentation or have a complex message that would be hard to condense in one slide, a video is a dynamic way of conveying your message in any type of presentation.

The Typography You Use Matters

visual presentation can be made effective

Typography is how you will arrange and present the words in your presentation. An audience can engage when text is readable, functional and works well with the other elements in the presentation. Fonts and sizing are a good place to start establishing the tone of your presentation.

Overview of Font Choices

Elegant fonts often denote a sense of luxury or lifestyle tone. Use script fonts sparingly, but as titles they immediately give this polished and high-end look. This should not be used as body text or something lengthy to read. Think about if you sent an email in that text – it would be tedious to read. However, maybe if it were a title or a way to name email, the choice may be more correct.

Corporate fonts often are traditional, serif fonts or clean sans serif fonts that evoke a sense of trust and a clear message. Think of the fonts Lato, Helvetica or Arial – they’re go-to fonts that are easy to read, and work across many systems. This is especially helpful if you are working across teams when creating content or having to approve the content, idea or visuals.

Of course, you can incorporate more stylistic or playful fonts if you want to give your presentation a personal feel. Much like the scripted font, when used sparingly but in large titles, this choice of font can be very effective at conveying a certain personality.

Adding Symbols & Icons To Your Presentation

visual presentation can be made effective

You can consolidate information by using symbols or icons to direct your eye to information such as an arrow symbol. What if you used a symbol instead of a bullet point? Think of symbols as anchors for the eye to quickly find information. You can collect symbols off free stock sites or use the built-in ones in PowerPoint that are free to use!

Depending on if your presentation is formal or informal , you may also want to consider adding emojis! Emojis are fun ways to express different emotions and can help connect with a younger demographic.

Overall Branding, Tone of Voice & Consistency

visual presentation can be made effective

Another tool you may have at your disposal is if your brand, business or company has brand guidelines. It will be the guide and compass to your presentation’s information that goes within it. By keeping consistent you can achieve a polished look even if it looks very simple.

Use your business voice to communicate ideas and set the tone for your presentation. Are you in an investment banking business and want people to rely on the information given to you? That would inform perhaps using blues and purples, which are calmer colors and a cleaner look. Are you an influencer who’s buying power and spending choices matter to your audience? Maybe choosing bright colors with personal touches will make the connection. Are you designing an innovative app? Maybe more interactive slides would do the trick.

Use these questions to make sure your text and tone is consistent as this is a foundation of a well articulated brand or personal identity.

Consistent Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is how you will arrange objects and text in relation to one another to guide your user and not confuse the objects and how they should read them in your slides. Setting rules helps differentiate and prioritize what’s important in order.

Look at the difference between these two.

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You can see a clear distinction in the example below:

Think of hierarchy of a form of narration or story structure. Your eye goes to the title, then to the subtitle, then to the body copy in a logical manner. Where the eye travels is one of those things we don’t think about often. But you can also utilize eye lines in photos. Is your subject in the photo looking left or right? Consider placing text to where your subject is looking and see how effectively your eye travels to that text.

We’ll look at hierarchy strictly as sizing of words for now, but note you can establish hierarchy with type, white space, alignment, etc. As a general rule of thumb, you should have consistent sizing for your Header (or title slide / slide title), your subtitles and your body text. That’s it! If the sizing in your PowerPoint is consistent, your words will look uniform and clean. Everything will be much easier to read and the eye will be trained to move each slide.

Don’t Forget Your Own Style

Also don’t forget to incorporate your own style and what kind of visuals you like. Even if your early visuals may seem simple, build up that design muscle with the basics and design techniques that look clean and consistent.

You’ll find as you design these basics, you’ll probably start noticing other visuals and things you like in other mediums and presentations. Keep a note or screenshot the presentation that inspired you. Create a mood-board that you can refer to in the future for quick idea inspiration. Copying gets a bad rap, but learning how to design something you like even if it’s a clone copy will teach you many things about design. Build a collection of images that informs everything you do: for your color scheme, your designs, the cadence of images, etc.

That being said, you can also use free stock websites like Freepik for some design layouts inspiration. Creative Market is a paid website but the site offers a ton of design inspiration. This site has design templates for what’s currently in and trending. You can subscribe to an email newsletter on either site to get bite sized design influence each day that goes straight to your inbox.

However, don’t be afraid to try something new!

Once you get to a level of comfortable designing, these new ideas will be much easier to execute with the technical knowledge you amassed when you started. You could even try using a new app to design your ideas to keep your knowledge fresh! (Keep in mind that most online apps like SlideShare use cookies to improve functionality and performance.)

Ask your friends or people at your organization to give you feedback and critique, as that’s also crucial to honing your design skills. The people around you also represent different audiences!

visual presentation can be made effective

The above image looks boring, right?

That’s because there are no visual elements!

Powerful visual presentations can engage audiences psychologically with both the presentation itself and the energy of the presenter. By understanding a few universal design concepts, you can begin your journey creating wonderful visual presentations and becoming a better presenter ! Thanks for reading this blog post, tell us your tips in the comments below.

Author:  Content Team

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Article • 12 min read

Creating Effective Presentation Visuals

Connecting people with your message.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

visual presentation can be made effective

Apple® founder Steve Jobs was known widely for his great presentations. His unveiling of the iPhone® in 2007 is considered to have been one of his best presentations ever, and, if you were one of the millions who watched it online, you'll know why. The presentation was engaging, and passionate.

Jobs was particularly well known for building his presentations around powerful visual aids. He knew that slides are most effective when they tell a story rather than convey information, so his visuals were simple, elegant, and image-based. They complemented and reinforced his message, and they never competed with him for his audience's attention.

You don't have to be Steve Jobs to give a great presentation, but you do need great visuals. They convey a powerful message about your ideas and your brand, so it's essential to get them right. In this article, we'll look at how you can create effective presentation visuals – slides that connect your audience with your message.

Why Simplicity Speaks Volumes

The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" is popular for a good reason: the human brain processes information more effectively when it is accompanied by images, or by short, memorable statements. This means that when you use simple, image-based slides to support your message, your audience can better grasp the information you're communicating.

However, many people use too many slides, or they build presentations around visual aids that are word-heavy or excessively complex.

These kinds of visual aids can negatively affect your presentation. Let's look at some examples:

  • You're trying to convince the board to support a new product idea. Your slides are made up of graphs, numbers, and blocks of text from top to bottom, and board members spend most of their time reading the slides instead of listening to you. The result? You don't make a real connection, and your passion for the project is lost on them. They vote unanimously not to take the idea forward.
  • You're pitching to a promising potential client. You spent a lot of time creating your slides, using many colors, animations, and fonts. However, the slides are so complex that your client has trouble understanding them. She leaves the presentation feeling overwhelmed and tired, and avoids using your firm because she fears, subconsciously, that dealing with your firm in the future could be similarly draining.
  • You're giving a presentation to your department to highlight its good work. You want to feature everyone, so you make a slide detailing each person's accomplishments. Your department has dozens of people, so by the end, your team cares more about leaving than their results.

Now think about what happens when you use simple and engaging visuals. Instead of generating confusion or exhaustion, your slides create a positive connection with your audience. People might not remember exactly what you said, but they will remember a powerful image. They'll recall the positive emotions that they experienced during your presentation, and they'll start to associate your brand with clear, intelligent communication.

The results will be profound. You'll win new clients, convince colleagues to act on your ideas, and earn recognition for your team members' hard work. In short, you'll make positive impressions that will remain in people's minds long after the details of your presentation have faded.

Creating Great Visuals

Your visual aids have one job: to support your presentation . However, it takes considerable time, creativity, and effort to develop slides that do this well. Use the tips below to make the most of your preparation time.

1. Be Consistent

A common mistake is choosing different colors and fonts for each slide. This can confuse your audience and divert attention away from your message. Stay consistent with your slides, so that they form part of a seamless whole.

First, choose colors carefully, as color will affect your presentation's mood and tone. Also, think about the space that you'll be presenting in. If the room will be dark (with lights off), choose a darker background color, such as dark blue, black, or gray, with white or light-colored text. If the room will be light (with lights on or plenty of ambient light), choose a white or light-colored background, with black or dark-colored text.

You also need to match color with the tone and message of your presentation. Bright colors convey energy and excitement, while darker colors may seem more conservative and serious. Align the color palette you choose with your subject matter.

Microsoft® PowerPoint and Apple's Keynote are the most widely used presentation packages. They feature useful templates and tools, and most people are familiar with the layout of their presentations.

However, cloud-based presentation tools have features and templates that might be new to your audience, increasing the potential impact of your presentations.

2. Consider Culture

Before you create your visuals, make sure that you understand your audience. This is especially true if you're presenting to a culturally diverse group.

For example, not everyone reads from left to right, and people from some cultures may consider a particular color offensive or bad luck in business settings (look out for examples of this in our Managing Around the World articles). Additionally, jargon or slang may cause confusion with your audience.

When designing your visuals, use images and photographs that reflect the culture to which you're speaking. If you're presenting to a culturally diverse group, use pictures and images that reflect this diversity.

And keep graphics and phrases simple; remember, not everyone in the room will be a native English speaker. Whenever possible, use images to replace bullet points and sentences.

Our article on Cross-Cultural Communication has more tips for communicating with an ethnically diverse group.

3. Use Images Intelligently

When Steve Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air® , he needed to show just how small this new laptop was. The audience wasn't going to remember that it was 0.68 x 11.8 x 7.56 inches; those numbers don't create an emotional response. Instead, he showed them that the MacBook Air would fit easily into a standard manila envelope. This was a powerful way to show its size.

This kind of creativity is essential when choosing images. Your audience has probably seen plenty of bad clip-art and too many pictures of cross-cultural handshakes. Brainstorm creative, clever approaches with your imagery, and look for photographs or illustrations that tell a story in a less obvious way.

Thoughtful images will keep your audience engaged, reinforce your professionalism, and make a lasting impression.

4. Break Complex Data Down

When you have to communicate complex data or large chunks of information, avoid putting it all on one slide, as your audience may struggle to take in all of the details. Instead, either summarize the information, or split it up over several slides.

You can also use handouts to communicate complex information. Handouts allow your audience to look at data closely. This is especially important when you're presenting to analytical people, such as engineers, scientists, or finance professionals. They are trained to be skeptical about data, and a handout will give them a closer look. Once again, this kind of attention to the needs of your audience will highlight your professionalism and support your message.

5. Keep It Simple

Each slide should focus on one idea or concept. This allows your audience to grasp quickly what you want to communicate. Keep your text to a bare minimum (10 words or fewer if possible), and, where you can, use an image to convey a message rather than words: for example, consider using a graph instead of a list to show changing trends. Each slide should take three seconds or fewer to process. If it takes longer, the slide is probably too complex.

It can sometimes be helpful to follow a clear structure when creating your presentation; for example, if it is focused on a document or process with which audience members are familiar. This will help them make connections between your content and their existing knowledge.

Avoid bulleted lists whenever possible; they make it too easy to put several ideas on one slide, which can be overwhelming for your audience. If you do need to use bullets, don't use sentences; instead, simply list the fact, statistic, or idea you want to communicate. Then use your narrative to educate the audience about what these mean.

To simplify the wording on your slides further, highlight the key word in every sentence.

Next, look at the layout of your slides. Aim to use a plain background and plenty of blank space: this will help to focus audience members' eyes on your message. Avoid decorating slides with background pictures, logos or patterns that could distract attention.

Last, consider using blank slides when you need the audience's complete focus; a blank slide is equivalent to a pause, and it will add drama, tension, and focus to your words.

Many people underestimate how much time they need to set aside to prepare for a presentation. They'll spend days creating content and visuals but only a few hours practicing. Allow extra preparation time to hone your message and feel fully confident in your presentation.

First, take our interactive quiz, How Good Are Your Presentation Skills? to get an idea of how well you speak. Our articles on Delivering Great Presentations and Better Public Speaking contain tips and strategies that will help you communicate with clarity and intention.

When you practice your presentation, use your visuals. You should be able to glance at each slide and know exactly what you want to say.

If you're not confident in creating your own slides, think about outsourcing the task to a professional. This can be a smart option when a lot is at stake, or when you don't have the technical skills to create the type of presentation you want.

Consider using an outsourcing service such as Elance , Guru , or PeoplePerHour to find a suitable professional.

If you do, keep in mind that managing a freelancer requires a different approach from managing a regular staff member. Be clear about the project details, communicate your goals for the presentation, and set deadlines that give you plenty of time to revise and add as necessary.

Presentations that are too complex or lengthy can undermine your message. To create better visuals, do the following:

  • Stay consistent.
  • Consider culture.
  • Use images intelligently.
  • Break down complex data.
  • Keep it simple.

If the stakes are high with your presentation and you don't feel confident with your technical skills, consider outsourcing slide preparation.

"iPhone," "Apple," "MacBook Air," and "Keynote" are trademarks of Apple Inc. (see www.apple.com ). "Microsoft" and "PowerPoint" are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation (see www.microsoft.com ). We have no association or connection with these organizations.

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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

  • Carmine Gallo

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Five tips to set yourself apart.

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).

I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

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  • Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman  (St. Martin’s Press).

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.css-1qrtm5m{display:block;margin-bottom:8px;text-transform:uppercase;font-size:14px;line-height:1.5714285714285714;-webkit-letter-spacing:-0.35px;-moz-letter-spacing:-0.35px;-ms-letter-spacing:-0.35px;letter-spacing:-0.35px;font-weight:300;color:#606F7B;}@media (min-width:600px){.css-1qrtm5m{font-size:16px;line-height:1.625;-webkit-letter-spacing:-0.5px;-moz-letter-spacing:-0.5px;-ms-letter-spacing:-0.5px;letter-spacing:-0.5px;}} Best Practices 5 essential preparation steps for a successful presentation

by Tom Rielly • June 15, 2020

visual presentation can be made effective

Keeping your presentation visuals minimalistic, simple, and clear is just one important step to remember when designing a hit presentation. Leaving nothing to chance, great presenters prove quite methodical as they prepare. Here’s a checklist for everything you need to keep in mind before your next presentation:

1. Choose the right software for your needs

visualpres blogpost 2 softwares

The easiest way to select the right presentation software for you is to simply find the one that is native to your device. For example, if you have a Mac, use Apple Keynote, if you work on Windows, use PowerPoint. Google Slides is recommended if you’re working with someone, as it makes collaboration very easy. Another software option is Prezi: a specialty tool called Prezi that creates a presentation using motion, zoom, and panning across one giant visual space.

2. Organize your files

As you develop your script and visuals, you will need to start assembling all the assets for your slides. Create a unique folder on your computer to hold these items. Keep the folder organized by media type (presentation drafts, photos, videos, scripts) and back them up frequently to the Cloud or external disk. Label each file with a specific descriptive name, e.g. “Susan Johnson singing magpie 2020”, as opposed to “IMG_4043.jpg”, which can make it confusing to find your assets. The more organized you are up front, the easier preparing for your presentation will be.

3. Prepare your presentation materials

Make sure your presentation materials (script, graphics, actual slides) are saved in at least two safe spots (for example, your computer and an external USB drive) and are backed-up frequently. If you are using an online presentation software, such as Google Slides, be sure to also download a copy of your presentation in case the internet connection is unreliable. Having all the individual assets on hand in addition to your presentation slides can be helpful if you experience tech issues before presenting, or if you need to make any last minute changes. Make sure to label your final presentation with the title and your name so it’s easy to find.

4. Practice, practice, practice!

Remember, practice makes perfect. People often run out of time making their presentations and have no time to practice. Most TED speakers practice at least ten times. Neuroscientist Jill-Bolte Taylor gave one of the most successful Talks in TED history with nearly 27 million views. How did she do it? She practiced her Talk over 40 times! By rehearsing multiple times you will naturally memorize your Talk, which means you won’t need note cards when you give your final presentation.

5. Do a final test run

Before presenting, make sure the equipment you need is working properly. It’s generally good practice to rehearse standing on the exact stage with the exact lighting using the exact computer that you will be using in your final presentation.

Here’s a quick checklist of what to look for when testing your equipment:

  • If you're not using your own computer, the one provided might be slower and have trouble playing media. If you have videos or other media, make sure they play correctly
  • Test the projector to make sure it’s HD
  • Make sure images are clear
  • Test the sound of any clips you use, as this is what goes wrong most frequently
  • If you’re using a mic, test the volume

Don’t let technical issues or other blunders overshadow your presentation. By following these guidelines, and with a little preparation, you can engineer out the problems BEFORE they happen.

Ready to learn more about how to make your presentation even better? Get TED Masterclass and develop your ideas into TED-style talks

© 2023 TED Conferences, LLC. All rights reserved. Please note that the TED Talks Usage policy does not apply to this content and is not subject to our creative commons license.

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Powerful and Effective Presentation Skills: More in Demand Now Than Ever

visual presentation can be made effective

When we talk with our L&D colleagues from around the globe, we often hear that presentation skills training is one of the top opportunities they’re looking to provide their learners. And this holds true whether their learners are individual contributors, people managers, or senior leaders. This is not surprising.

Effective communications skills are a powerful career activator, and most of us are called upon to communicate in some type of formal presentation mode at some point along the way.

For instance, you might be asked to brief management on market research results, walk your team through a new process, lay out the new budget, or explain a new product to a client or prospect. Or you may want to build support for a new idea, bring a new employee into the fold, or even just present your achievements to your manager during your performance review.

And now, with so many employees working from home or in hybrid mode, and business travel in decline, there’s a growing need to find new ways to make effective presentations when the audience may be fully virtual or a combination of in person and remote attendees.

Whether you’re making a standup presentation to a large live audience, or a sit-down one-on-one, whether you’re delivering your presentation face to face or virtually, solid presentation skills matter.

Even the most seasoned and accomplished presenters may need to fine-tune or update their skills. Expectations have changed over the last decade or so. Yesterday’s PowerPoint which primarily relied on bulleted points, broken up by the occasional clip-art image, won’t cut it with today’s audience.

The digital revolution has revolutionized the way people want to receive information. People expect presentations that are more visually interesting. They expect to see data, metrics that support assertions. And now, with so many previously in-person meetings occurring virtually, there’s an entirely new level of technical preparedness required.

The leadership development tools and the individual learning opportunities you’re providing should include presentation skills training that covers both the evergreen fundamentals and the up-to-date capabilities that can make or break a presentation.

So, just what should be included in solid presentation skills training? Here’s what I think.

The fundamentals will always apply When it comes to making a powerful and effective presentation, the fundamentals will always apply. You need to understand your objective. Is it strictly to convey information, so that your audience’s knowledge is increased? Is it to persuade your audience to take some action? Is it to convince people to support your idea? Once you understand what your objective is, you need to define your central message. There may be a lot of things you want to share with your audience during your presentation, but find – and stick with – the core, the most important point you want them to walk away with. And make sure that your message is clear and compelling.

You also need to tailor your presentation to your audience. Who are they and what might they be expecting? Say you’re giving a product pitch to a client. A technical team may be interested in a lot of nitty-gritty product detail. The business side will no doubt be more interested in what returns they can expect on their investment.

Another consideration is the setting: is this a formal presentation to a large audience with questions reserved for the end, or a presentation in a smaller setting where there’s the possibility for conversation throughout? Is your presentation virtual or in-person? To be delivered individually or as a group? What time of the day will you be speaking? Will there be others speaking before you and might that impact how your message will be received?

Once these fundamentals are established, you’re in building mode. What are the specific points you want to share that will help you best meet your objective and get across your core message? Now figure out how to convey those points in the clearest, most straightforward, and succinct way. This doesn’t mean that your presentation has to be a series of clipped bullet points. No one wants to sit through a presentation in which the presenter reads through what’s on the slide. You can get your points across using stories, fact, diagrams, videos, props, and other types of media.

Visual design matters While you don’t want to clutter up your presentation with too many visual elements that don’t serve your objective and can be distracting, using a variety of visual formats to convey your core message will make your presentation more memorable than slides filled with text. A couple of tips: avoid images that are cliched and overdone. Be careful not to mix up too many different types of images. If you’re using photos, stick with photos. If you’re using drawn images, keep the style consistent. When data are presented, stay consistent with colors and fonts from one type of chart to the next. Keep things clear and simple, using data to support key points without overwhelming your audience with too much information. And don’t assume that your audience is composed of statisticians (unless, of course, it is).

When presenting qualitative data, brief videos provide a way to engage your audience and create emotional connection and impact. Word clouds are another way to get qualitative data across.

Practice makes perfect You’ve pulled together a perfect presentation. But it likely won’t be perfect unless it’s well delivered. So don’t forget to practice your presentation ahead of time. Pro tip: record yourself as you practice out loud. This will force you to think through what you’re going to say for each element of your presentation. And watching your recording will help you identify your mistakes—such as fidgeting, using too many fillers (such as “umm,” or “like”), or speaking too fast.

A key element of your preparation should involve anticipating any technical difficulties. If you’ve embedded videos, make sure they work. If you’re presenting virtually, make sure that the lighting is good, and that your speaker and camera are working. Whether presenting in person or virtually, get there early enough to work out any technical glitches before your presentation is scheduled to begin. Few things are a bigger audience turn-off than sitting there watching the presenter struggle with the delivery mechanisms!

Finally, be kind to yourself. Despite thorough preparation and practice, sometimes, things go wrong, and you need to recover in the moment, adapt, and carry on. It’s unlikely that you’ll have caused any lasting damage and the important thing is to learn from your experience, so your next presentation is stronger.

How are you providing presentation skills training for your learners?

Manika Gandhi is Senior Learning Design Manager at Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning. Email her at [email protected] .

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A Short Guide To Making An Outstanding Visual Presentation

Using PowerPoint or any form of visual presentation is key to attracting potential business. A good picture or visual can attract and keep attention almost like nothing else. Keep reading to see how you can own these visual presentation skills.

The easiest exact procedure to follow to get your message through to your audience and have your brand stand out from the rest is to have amazing visual presentations.

Visual presentations will almost certainly lead to positive feedback and great responses from your audience. We’ve all been through one of those presentations that you wish would end already. So let’s learn how to avoid situations like that.

The purpose of a PowerPoint presentation is to, well, make your point powerfully . And how do you do that? By being visually compelling and, accordingly, making the viewing process enjoyable.

Why Are Visuals The Stepping Stone For An Impactful Presentation? 💁🏻‍♀️

So how can you make the most of your presentation 🗒, take away 💁🏻‍♂️.

Important disclosure: we're proud affiliates of some tools mentioned in this guide. If you click an affiliate link and subsequently make a purchase, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you (you pay nothing extra).

Visuals Are Attention-Grabbers 👀

Usually, your eyes go straight to visuals

We all know the saying— Show, don't tell.

It's a common mistake to include a lot of text in your presentation but rather include meaningful visuals (make sure the picture conditions are great to better the viewing experience) for a higher rate of participation in your presentation.

Carefully selected imagery is the key to engaging with your public. Sometimes, it's significantly easier to explain complex concepts through a short video or an infographic .

Overall, shorter presentation times can often lead to your audience understanding complex ideas, even if they have no prior background knowledge of the subject.

The normal viewing times of videos or presentations of your audience are decreasing day by day, which is why the visual display of your presentation is so important to keep their attention.

The pair of images that you choose to use isn't there to undermine your point. Their purpose is to make your audience attentive and to emphasize what you have to say.

Images Are Action-Inspiring 🙌

visual presentation can be made effective

Using a visual display in your presentation will make your audience react. You can use them to raise awareness about a certain topic or to inspire your public to take a specific action.

More often than not, messages delivered visually receive a more powerful reaction and a higher rate of participation from people.

Is All That Text Necessary? 🧐

visual presentation can be made effective

You can try to follow the 6 x 6 guidelines for one slide as a general rule. This means you should have a maximum of 6 key points, each with six words. This way, you can keep everything succinct, organized, and easy to understand.

Even when you're preparing an audio-visual presentation (which can be a better choice for people with learning difficulties), your focus should still be to keep the text short and sweet on each of the individual images.

Having no more than 140 characters on your slide will leave you with a lot of white space. This will make your presentation look more clean and organized. But also, it will help your audience focus on the key points you're trying to make.

Make sure that your background color combinations emphasize the key points and don't take attention away from them.

Use Straightforward And Precise Fonts 𝘼𝙖

visual presentation can be made effective

While you might be tempted to break the mold with your presentation, fonts are not the place to do this. Try to use standard sans serif fonts, like Open Sans, Tahoma, Verdana .

These are easily recognizable and look good on the viewing window. Try not to use more than 2 or 3 different fonts in your presentation. The key to having an outstanding slide deck is organization and consistency.

Using too many different elements will distract and confuse your audience.

Any feedback activity from your audience will also result in this conclusion, and if your audience is confused, your rate of participation from the audience declines.

Say No To Poor Quality Images 🙅🏽‍♂️

Needless to say, high-quality images will make your presentation look professional . Try as much as possible to color-coordinate your visuals with the color scheme you’ve chosen for your slide deck.

Their purpose is to enhance and underline, not to overwhelm the slide, so make sure the picture conditions in your presentation are top-notch! Using binary image classification might also be a good idea to simplify complex concepts.

To avoid bad quality on your pair of images used in your presentation, make sure that your laptop display resolution agree with your presentation.

Another thing you should keep in mind: not using too many individual images . Generally, it’s good to try and use a single picture—or 2, if they’re relevant. Your presentation isn’t a photo album.

Use Contrast For Emphasis And Grabbing Attention 💁🏻‍♀️

You can use contrast cleverly in your presentation. First of all, it can help your message "pop" with a high-level contrast between your background and your text.

You can also add a bar of color behind your text —to make it more legible and bring it to the center of attention. Binary image classification is also a great way to emphasize the contrast between concepts.

Contrast can also be used to highlight your key points . Choose a color from your palette to emphasize important text on your slide. Make sure that your key points are a few times larger than the supplementary information given.

By making your key points a few times larger than supplementary info, you're creating contrast and thus pointing your viewers into the right direction of where to look, helping those with possible learning difficulties.

Nevertheless, it will lose its power if you use this trick too often. So use it wisely. Using an arrow symbol during your presentation will also emphasize the important points.

Limit Your Color Palette 👈🏽

Yes, rainbows are really pretty, but not in your presentation . Be mindful of what colors you choose and if they come together harmoniously.

There's no need to go overboard—you can grab attention without using complex textures or gradients. You can, for example, use a background of blocks to emphasize the message in front of it.

Even though it's tempting to make an art-inspired presentation, keep this for a more fitting audience and not for business proposals.

To choose the right colors for your presentation, you can use tools like Kuler or coolors.co . Using these can help you learn a bit about which colors go together and which ones don't.

Additionally, suppose you want to do this right. In that case, you can even look at an analysis of color theory to see how your palette can influence your audience's emotions.

Doing this avoids the risk of presenting a pair of images and evoking the wrong response from your audience.

Data Visualization Is Your Salvation 📊

Project management presentations or anything with a lot of numbers and data to present can be dreadful.

Luckily, you can use a lot of elements to make your life easier in your individual images — charts, graphs, radials , binary image classification, and more.

By doing this, you can simplify complex information or even a lot of information in a short period of time, even if the audience doesn't have prior background knowledge of the subject.

Shorter presentation times often work better for explaining complex ideas. Additionally, you can always look online for some free timeline templates to showcase progress or presumptions, or learn how to make your own timelines in PowerPoint.

The key is taking all the data and putting it into individual images that are easy to remember and understand.

Skip The Bullet Points 📝

Ideally, you should focus on a single idea for each slide. This means that instead of having five bullet points, you should have five slides focusing on each key point to do an in-depth analysis.

This way, you can make sure that people remember what you say, and your audience will be able to draw comparisons between the five slides. Also, bullet points are kind of old , aren’t they?

Surely, you can find more attractive ways to structure information within a slide. Try content boxes, bubbles, all sorts of frames—just don’t go overboard with your elements.

Mind The Visual Hierarchy 🎨

Even if you have no background knowledge in graphic design , you can still organize elements on your slide or picture, depending on their importance.

The purpose of this procedure is to let your audience know where their eyes should go first on each picture, and then second, and so forth.

You can do this by making use of size, the correct laptop display resolutions, white space between elements, or proximity between elements. Another smart thing to do is to use repetition to your advantage in your visual display.

Having only one element in your viewing window will make it pop—so your audience will know that is the main point. When your audience is viewing your presentation, they shouldn't wonder where to look on your PowerPoint.

Audio And Video Elements 🎙📹

Choosing tasks using video and audio elements can help you explain complex concepts so much easier. An audio-visual presentation is also a great way to create interaction with your public.

Using these gives you a break from talking and your audience a new point of focus. Embedding a video into a PowerPoint presentation is not hard if you decide to go this route.

However, make sure not to pick a 10-minute video, but rather use shorter presentation times.

You should use these items as a short, fresh breath of air—not let them have the presentation for you.

Additionally, make sure this content is relevant not only to your content but also to the audience— or you will lose their attention, as this is a big feedback influence.

What Do You Think About Interactivity? 👨🏾‍💻

No matter how good your presentation is, there is always going to be a low-energy moment . A good way to recover from this is to directly interact with your audience and strive for a high rate of participation.

For example, you can make them vote on subject comparisons, stand up for some reason, or conduct a short quiz.

To make this more interesting, you can add links to your presentation —either between slides, on the middle image of the presentation, or elements.

This way, when they choose and answer, something happens. Creating a unique slideshow can help you keep your audience attentive and create longer viewing times for your audience.

Transitions And Animations

visual presentation can be made effective

You either love transitions, or you hate them. There’s no in-between. The safest route is to go all static and grab attention through colors, textures, and so forth.

This way, nobody gets distracted, and we all remember something at the end of your presentation.

However, if you want some pizzaz on your slides, you can use animations and transitions to become memorable.

However, keep them consistent and don’t get too excited . Not every element on your slide has to move. Use motion as an emphasis, not as a distraction.

Have An Interesting Cover Style 😍

visual presentation can be made effective

The cover slide should be the one to grab your public’s attention and curiosity. It should say something about the subject but still be mysterious.

You can think of it as a movie trailer—you give people a taste of what’s to come, but without spoiling the whole thing. These slides are your chance to be creative and inventive. You can’t afford to be boring on this one.

Here, you should draw inspiration from an art-inspired presentation. However, as with any part of your art-inspired presentation — don’t go overboard.

Using too many elements or too many colors can put your whole slide deck in a bad light.

Reserve A Couple Of Slides At The End To Summarize Your Main Points

By doing this, you emphasize them and make sure that they will be remembered.

You don’t have to go through everything once more — just some keywords to jolt the memory of your public.

However, be careful. If your presentation is already quite lengthy— you might want to skip this one or make it short. If your speech is too long, the only thing your public will want is to escape and go home as fast as possible.

Accordingly, the attention span and the desired viewing times of the audience will be low.

It might sound easy, but building a visually compelling presentation is not that simple. There are a lot of factors and small details that can either make or break your whole work.

For example—using colors, but too many of them, a pair of images, but making sure the picture conditions are great, using the right type of font, but at the wrong sizes, and so forth.

However, if you check all the points made in the article—and maybe do a little research and analysis on your own , you’ll be just fine, and your feedback will surely be positive. Most rules are basic common sense for anyone who has seen a presentation before.

The most important thing here is to feel comfortable with your presentation in a way that it seems as though you have background knowledge on the subject.

If you’re happy about it—and passionate about the subject you’re talking about, then you can’t go wrong. Feelings are contagious, so your audience will sense your happiness.

If you find yourself pressed for time or lacking the necessary expertise to create a visually stunning presentation, you can explore options such as SketchBubble to access professionally designed PowerPoint templates that you can download.

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Presentation Guru

Presentation Guru

5 ways to make your presentation more visual and effective.

visual presentation can be made effective

Visualizing slides (just a fancy word for transforming slides full of text into more visual slides) is a big part of my job, but you don’t need to be a PowerPoint expert to apply some basic visualization techniques to your presentations. Even minimal changes can make your presentations much more effective and can help people understand your messages better.

Listening to someone present, who is just reading a slide full of text, doesn’t add to understanding. It actually distracts, because the audience will end up reading the text on the slides themselves instead of listening to what the presenter is saying.

On the other hand, slides with less text and more visuals, whether it be graphs, pictures or diagrams can help the audience retain more information, because visuals and speech work hand-in-hand rather than compete for attention in the brain.

It’s a proven concept we follow at BrightCarbon, and one that we often preach about on our own blog . So, to get you started, here are 5 simple things that you can do to make your presentations more visual and more effective.

1) Cut down text on slides

Bullet-point filled slides have been plaguing audiences since PowerPoint began. But they aren’t just painfully dull: bullet points are really ineffective for communicating information to an audience.

So, the easiest way you can quickly make your presentation 1000 times better is by simply cutting out some of the text.

The easiest way to cut down text is to first break it down into chunks, then break it into key points – so, one short bullet-point per chunk – and then to get rid of filler words. This will help you take large paragraphs of text and break them into short and snappy phrases that can fit into text boxes or other shapes.

For example, let’s look at the following block of text:

Peonies are my favorite type of flower. They’re pretty to look at because they come in a range of beautiful shades of pink. They also smell amazing and make great perfume. Lastly, they are larger than a lot of other flowers and make a gorgeous, lush bouquet.

Instead of filling an entire paragraph, we could break this text into three key points:

  • Peonies come in range of pink shades
  • They make great perfume
  • They make a gorgeous bouquet

Then, if we get rid of any filler, we are left with:

  • Pink shades
  • Great perfume
  • Gorgeous bouquet

And voila! You have yourself some bullets that are ready to be fit into shapes. By allowing your text to fit into shapes you gain the ability to organize it in a linear way and then you can animate it on clicks, to stagger the flow of information and tell a more compelling story.


bullet point slide

and AFTER :

visual presentation can be made effective

If you want to learn more about how to ditch the bullet points for good, find out more here .

2) Show locations on maps

I’ve worked on quite a few presentations at this point and I think it’s safe to say most of them include a list of locations at some point. This is because it is really common for companies to have a narrative that includes showing their impact on a national, or global, scale by showing their locations. Often, this is just presented as a list of places. But it’s a lot more interesting – and memorable – to show locations on a map.

For example, if a company has opened a couple stores per year, in different locations, they could animate icons representing these stores on a map and have information such as the year, location or size of store in a box next to the icon.

This is a good way to make the slides illustrate a story about the company’s growth, in a way that is easy for the audience to understand.

3) Add color cues

Adding color to slides in an organized way can enable you to manipulate the audience’s attention and increase their understanding of your content.

For example, if every element on your slide is blue and then you color one object yellow, people will understand that the differently colored object is important or different in some way.

The same idea of ‘color coding’ works when you want the audience to get certain ideas from colors e.g. yellow and black mean warning; green is positive; red is negative.

Keep in mind that these associations are partly based on cultural teachings, so they might not apply if the people you are presenting to have a different cultural understanding of color.

You can also use color to set a ‘mood’ for your presentation. For example, if your company is heading a green initiative then using green tones in your presentation will make it feel more environmentally friendly. Most brands already apply this theory in their logos and brand guidelines, so continuing this thought process in your slides can create even more cohesion and understanding.

Find out more about using color effectively here .

4) Use Timelines

use timelines

A great way to organize text-heavy slides that involve dates and events is to divide them into a timeline.

This is similar to the map idea above, in that it requires a certain type of information to be successful, but if you have dates and information, it’s much more effective to see them organized linearly than in a list of bullet points.

A timeline is a pretty simple element to create on PowerPoint and just involves a line and some evenly aligned and distributed boxes. Create your boxes using the Insert -> Shape functionality, then use the built-in alignment tools to space everything out neatly .

5) Replace text with labelled images

The last, and arguably most important, point is to get rid of text all together, and replace it with images.

For example, if you want to talk about a new product and its features, the best way of doing this is to insert an image of the product and just label it with key words.

You can insert shapes to pin-point areas you’d like to highlight and then animate them in on clicks so you can stagger the rate at which you mention each feature, which can help the audience follow along.

It’s also useful to have images of the product being used by customers so that you can show the audience exactly how it will look and work.

Being complacent and adding tons of text or bullet points to your presentations won’t do you any favors, because people will become instantly bored and disengaged while you’re presenting, and will start reading what’s on the screen instead of listening to the important things you’re saying.

By applying a couple of easy-to-learn tips to your next presentation, you can significantly increase its effectiveness and make it much more visually appealing. Your audience will stay engaged throughout your presentation and will remember more of the content you are sharing.

It’s amazing how much visuals can do to improve communication between a presenter and an audience, so just remember that the next time you’re pasting reams of text into a 25-slide deck: there are better ways.

  • Latest Posts

Amy Post

Latest posts by Amy Post ( see all )

  • A Quick Guide to More Effective Animations - 28th February 2019
  • Master the Slide Master - 20th March 2018
  • 5 Ways to Make Your Presentation More Visual and Effective - 6th April 2017

visual presentation can be made effective

Craig Hadden (@RemotePoss)

11th April 2017 at 4:05 am

These are great ideas, so thanks for sharing. Recently I’ve tried to use colour in a more systematic way, so I was especially interested to read your thoughts on that.

You might also like this makeover I did on a (real) slide. It was stuffed full of bulleted text, but ended up being far less wordy and much more visual. See what your think. (And any comments or questions are always welcome!)

visual presentation can be made effective

15th April 2017 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for this. and if you’d like to write that piece for us, to help the thousands of designers and presenters out there, we’d love to publish that piece too. The guru is our community after all!

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Abigail Lee

25th June 2019 at 12:11 pm

Great article. Prior to stumbling upon your article on Google, I have found similar another engaging article on this website https://www.slideteam.net/blog . It has a collection of enthusiastic articles on PowerPoint as well as professional slides. Feel free to explore all of them.

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14.1 Organizing a Visual Presentation

Learning objectives.

  • Identify key ideas and details to create a concise, engaging presentation.
  • Identify the steps involved in planning a comprehensive presentation.

Until now, you have interacted with your audience of readers indirectly, on the page. You have tried to anticipate their reactions and questions as all good writers do. Anticipating the audience’s needs can be tough, especially when you are sitting alone in front of your computer.

When you give a presentation, you connect directly with your audience. For most people, making a presentation is both exciting and stressful. The excitement comes from engaging in a two-way interaction about your ideas. The stress comes from the pressure of presenting your ideas without having a delete button to undo mistakes. Outside the classroom, you may be asked to give a presentation, often at the last minute, and the show must go on. Presentations can be stressful, but planning and preparation, when the time and opportunity are available, can make all the difference.

This chapter covers how to plan and deliver an effective, engaging presentation. By planning carefully, applying some time-honored presentation strategies, and practicing, you can make sure that your presentation comes across as confident, knowledgeable, and interesting—and that your audience actually learns from it. The specific tasks involved in creating a presentation may vary slightly depending on your purpose and your assignment. However, these are the general steps.

Follow these steps to create a presentation based on your ideas:

  • Determine your purpose and identify the key ideas to present.
  • Organize your ideas in an outline.
  • Identify opportunities to incorporate visual or audio media, and create or locate these media aids.
  • Rehearse your presentation in advance.
  • Deliver your presentation to your audience.

Getting Started: Identifying and Organizing Key Ideas

To deliver a successful presentation, you need to develop content suitable for an effective presentation. Your ideas make up your presentation, but to deliver them effectively, you will need to identify key ideas and organize them carefully. Read the following considerations, which will help you first identify and then organize key ideas:

  • Be concise. You will include the most important ideas and leave out others. Some concepts may need to be simplified.
  • Employ more than one medium of expression. You should incorporate other media, such as charts, graphs, photographs, video or audio recordings, or websites.
  • Prepare for a face-to-face presentation. If you must deliver a face-to-face presentation, it is important to project yourself as a serious and well-informed speaker. You will often speak extemporaneously, or in a rehearsed but not memorized manner, which allows for flexibility given the context or audience. You will need to know your points and keep your audience engaged.

Determine Your Purpose

As with a writing assignment, determining the purpose of your presentation early on is crucial. You want to inform your readers about the topic, but think about what else you hope to achieve.

Are you presenting information intended to move your audience to adopt certain beliefs or take action on a particular issue? If so, you are speaking not only to inform but also to persuade your listeners. Do you want your audience to come away from your presentation knowing how to do something they that they did not know before? In that case, you are not only informing them but also explaining or teaching a process.

Writing at Work

Schoolteachers are trained to structure lessons around one or more lesson objectives. Usually the objective, the mission or purpose, states what students should know or be able to do after they complete the lesson. For example, an objective might state, “Students will understand the specific freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment” or “Students will be able to add two three-digit numbers correctly.”

As a manager, mentor, or supervisor, you may sometimes be required to teach or train other employees as part of your job. Determining the desired outcome of a training session will help you plan effectively. Identify your teaching objectives. What, specifically, do you want your audience to know (for instance, details of a new workplace policy) or be able to do (for instance, use a new software program)? Plan your teaching or training session to meet your objectives.

Identify Key Ideas

To plan your presentation, think in terms of three or four key points you want to get across. In a paper, you have the space to develop ideas at length and delve into complex details. In a presentation, however, you must convey your ideas more concisely.

One strategy you might try is to create an outline. What is your main idea? Would your main idea work well as key points for a brief presentation? How would you condense topics that might be too lengthy, or should you eliminate topics that may be too complicated to address in your presentation?

1. Revisit your presentation assignment, or think of a topic for your presentation. On your own sheet of notebook paper, write a list of at least three to five key ideas. Keep the following questions in mind when listing your key ideas:

  • What is your purpose?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How will you engage your audience?

2. On the same paper, identify the steps you must complete before you begin creating your presentation.

Use an Outline to Organize Ideas

After you determine which ideas are most appropriate for your presentation, you will create an outline of those ideas. Your presentation, like a written assignment, should include an introduction, body, and conclusion. These components serve much the same purpose as they do in a written assignment.

  • The introduction engages the audience’s attention, introduces the topic, and sets the tone for what is to come.
  • The body develops your point of view with supporting ideas, details, and examples presented in a logical order.
  • The conclusion restates your point of view, sums up your main points, and leaves your audience with something to think about.

Jorge, who wrote the research paper featured in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , developed the following outline. Jorge relied heavily on this outline to plan his presentation, but he adjusted it to suit the new format.

Outline for a presentation including the sections: introduction, purported benefits of low-carbohydrate diets, research on low-carbohydrate diets and weight loss, other long-term health outcomes, and conclusion

Planning Your Introduction

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you learned techniques for writing an interesting introduction, such as beginning with a surprising fact or statistic, a thought-provoking question or quotation, a brief anecdote that illustrates a larger concept or connects your topic to your audience’s experiences. You can use these techniques effectively in presentations as well. You might also consider actively engaging your audience by having members respond to questions or complete a brief activity related to your topic. For example, you may have your audience respond to a survey or tell about an experience related to your topic.

Incorporating media can also be an effective way to get your audience’s attention. Visual images such as a photograph or a cartoon can invoke an immediate emotional response. A graph or chart can highlight startling findings in research data or statistical information. Brief video or audio clips that clearly reinforce your message and do not distract or overwhelm your audience can provide a sense of immediacy when you plan to discuss an event or a current issue. A PowerPoint presentation allows you to integrate many of these different media sources into one presentation.

With the accessibility provided by the Internet, you can find interesting and appropriate audio and video with little difficulty. However, the clip alone will not sustain the presentation. To keep the audience interested and engaged, you must frame the beginning and end of the clip with your own words.

Jorge completed the introduction part of his outline by listing the key points he would use to open his presentation. He also planned to show various web links early on to illustrate the popularity of the low-carbohydrate diet trend.

Introduction section with the categories: background, and thesis/point of view

Planning the Body of Your Presentation

The next step is to work with the key ideas you identified earlier. Determine the order in which you want to present these ideas, and flesh them out with important details. Chapter 10 “Rhetorical Modes” discusses several organizational structures you might work with, such as chronological order, comparison-and-contrast structure, or cause-and-effect structure.

How much detail you include will depend on the time allotted for your presentation. Your instructor will most likely give you a specific time limit or a specific slide limit, such as eight to ten slides. If the time limit is very brief (two to three minutes, for instance), you will need to focus on communicating your point of view, main supporting points, and only the most relevant details. Three minutes can feel like an eternity if you are speaking before a group, but the time will pass very quickly. It is important to use it well.

If you have more time to work with—ten minutes or half an hour—you will be able to discuss your topic in greater detail. More time also means you must devote more thought into how you will hold your audience’s interest. If your presentation is longer than five minutes, introduce some variety so the audience is not bored. Incorporate multimedia, invite the audience to complete an activity, or set aside time for a question-and-answer session.

Jorge was required to limit his presentation to five to seven minutes. In his outline, he made a note about where he would need to condense some complicated material to stay within his time limit. He also decided to focus only on cholesterol and heart disease in his discussion of long-term health outcomes. The research on other issues was inconclusive, so Jorge decided to omit this material. Jorge’s notes on his outline show the revisions he has made to his presentation.

Some material could be chosen to omit

You are responsible for using your presentation time effectively to inform your audience. You show respect for your audience by following the expected time limit. However, that does not mean you must fill all of that time with talk if you are giving a face-to-face presentation. Involving your audience can take some of the pressure off you while also keeping them engaged. Have them respond to a few brief questions to get them thinking. Display a relevant photograph, document, or object and ask your classmates to comment. In some presentations, if time allows, you may choose to have your classmates complete an individual or group activity.

Planning Your Conclusion

The conclusion should briefly sum up your main idea and leave your audience with something to think about. As in a written paper, you are essentially revisiting your thesis. Depending on your topic, you may also ask the audience to reconsider their thinking about an issue, to take action, or to think about a related issue. If you presented an attention-getting fact or anecdote in your introduction, consider revisiting it in your conclusion. Just as you have learned about an essay’s conclusion, do not add new content to the presentation’s conclusion.

No matter how you choose to structure your conclusion, make sure it is well planned so that you are not tempted to wrap up your presentation too quickly. Inexperienced speakers, in a face-to-face presentation, sometimes rush through the end of a presentation to avoid exceeding the allotted time or to end the stressful experience of presenting in public. Unfortunately, a hurried conclusion makes the presentation as a whole less memorable.

Time management is the key to delivering an effective presentation whether it is face-to-face or in PowerPoint. As you develop your outline, think about the amount of time you will devote to each section. For instance, in a five-minute face-to-face presentation, you might plan to spend one minute on the introduction, three minutes on the body, and one minute on the conclusion. Later, when you rehearse, you can time yourself to determine whether you need to adjust your content or delivery.

In a PowerPoint presentation, it is important that your presentation is visually stimulating, avoids information overload by limiting the text per slide, uses speaker notes effectively, and uses a font that is visible on the background (e.g., avoid white letters on a light background or black letters on a dark background).

Work with the list you created in Note 14.4 “Exercise 1” to develop a more complete outline for your presentation. Make sure your outline includes the following:

  • An introduction that uses strategies to capture your audience’s attention
  • A body section that summarizes your main points and supporting details
  • A conclusion that will help you end on a memorable note
  • Brief notes about how much time you plan to spend on each part of the presentation (you may adjust the timing later as needed)

Identifying Opportunities to Incorporate Visual and Audio Media

You may already have some ideas for how to incorporate visual and audio media in your presentation. If not, review your outline and begin thinking about where to include media. Presenting information in a variety of formats will help you keep your audience’s interest.

Use Presentation Software

Delivering your presentation as a slideshow is one way to use media to your advantage. As you speak, you use a computer and an attached projector to display a slideshow of text and graphics that complement the speech. Your audience will follow your ideas more easily, because you are communicating with them through more than one sense. The audience hears your words and also sees the corresponding visuals. A listener who momentarily loses track of what you are saying can rely on the slide to cue his or her memory.

To set up your presentation, you will need to work with the content of your outline to develop individual slides. Each slide should focus on just a few bullet points (or a similar amount of content presented in a graphic). Remember that your audience must be able to read the slides easily, whether the members sit in the front or the back of the room. Avoid overcrowding the slides with too much text.

Using presentation software, such as PowerPoint, allows you to incorporate graphics, sounds, and even web links directly into your slides. You can also work with available styles, color schemes, and fonts to give your presentation a polished, consistent appearance. Different slide templates make it easy to organize information to suit your purpose. Be sure your font is visible to you audience. Avoid using small font or colored font that is not visible against your background.

Use PowerPoint as a Visual Aid

PowerPoint and similar visual representation programs can be effective tools to help audiences remember your message, but they can also be an annoying distraction to your speech. How you prepare your slides and use the tool will determine your effectiveness.

PowerPoint is a slideware program that you have no doubt seen used in class, seen in a presentation at work, or perhaps used yourself to support a presentation. PowerPoint and similar slideware programs provide templates for creating electronic slides to present visual information to the audience, reinforcing the verbal message. You will be able to import or cut and paste words from text files, images, or video clips to create slides to represent your ideas. You can even incorporate web links. When using any software program, it is always a good idea to experiment with it long before you intend to use it; explore its many options and functions, and see how it can be an effective tool for you.

At first, you might be overwhelmed by the possibilities, and you might be tempted to use all the bells, whistles, and sound effects, not to mention the tumbling, flying, and animated graphics. If used wisely, a dissolve or key transition can be like a well-executed scene from a major motion picture and lead your audience to the next point. But if used indiscriminately, it can annoy the audience to the point where they cringe in anticipation of the sound effect at the start of each slide. This danger is inherent in the tool, but you are in charge of it and can make wise choices that enhance the understanding and retention of your information.

The first point to consider is which visual aid is the most important. The answer is you, the speaker. You will facilitate the discussion, give life to the information, and help the audience correlate the content to your goal or purpose. You do not want to be in a position where the PowerPoint presentation is the focus and you are on the side of the stage simply helping the audience follow along. Slides should support you in your presentation, rather than the other way around. Just as there is a number one rule for handouts (do not pass them out at the start of your presentation), there is also one for PowerPoint presentations: do not use PowerPoint slides as a read-aloud script for your speech. The PowerPoint slides should amplify and illustrate your main points, not reproduce everything you are going to say.

Your pictures are the second area of emphasis you will want to consider. The tool will allow you to show graphs, charts and illustrate relationships that words may only approach in terms of communication, but your verbal support of the visual images will make all the difference. Dense pictures or complicated graphics will confuse more than they clarify. Choose clear images that have an immediate connection to both your content and the audience, tailored to their specific needs. After the images, consider using only key words that can be easily read to accompany your pictures. The fewer words the better. Try to keep each slide to a total word count of less than ten words. Do not use full sentences. Using key words provides support for your verbal discussion, guiding you as well as your audience. The key words can serve as signposts or signal words related to key ideas.

A natural question at this point is, How do I communicate complex information simply? The answer comes with several options. The visual representation on the screen is for support and illustration. Should you need to communicate more technical, complex, or in-depth information in a visual way, consider preparing a handout to distribute at the conclusion of your speech. You may also consider using a printout of your slide show with a section for taking notes, but if you distribute it at the beginning of your speech, you run the risk of turning your presentation into a guided reading exercise and possibly distracting or losing members of the audience. Everyone reads at a different pace and takes notes in their own way. You do not want to be in the position of going back and forth between slides to help people follow along.

Another point to consider is how you want to use the tool to support your speech and how your audience will interpret its presentation. Most audiences wouldn’t want to read a page of text—as you might see in this book—on the big screen. They will be far more likely to glance at the screen and assess the information you present in relation to your discussion. Therefore, it is key to consider one main idea, relationship, or point per slide. The use of the tool should be guided with the idea that its presentation is for the audience’s benefit, not yours. People often understand pictures and images more quickly and easily than text, and you can use this to your advantage, using the knowledge that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Incorporate Visual Media

Even if you do not use a slideshow to complement your presentation, you can include visual media to support and enhance your content. Visual media are divided into two major categories: images and informational graphics.

Image-based media, such as photographs or videos, often have little or no accompanying text. Often these media are more powerful than words in getting a message across. Within the past decade, the images associated with major news stories, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, the Abu Ghraib prison abuses from 2004 to 2006, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, have powerfully affected viewers’ emotions and drawn their attention to these news stories.

Figure 14.1

A screen shot of a power point

Even if your presentation addresses a less dramatic subject, you can still use images to draw in your audience. Consider how photographs, an illustration, or a video might help your audience connect with a particular person or place or bring a historical event to life. Use visual images to support descriptions of natural or man-made phenomena. What ideas lend themselves to being explained primarily through images?

In addition, consider how you might incorporate informational graphics in your presentation. Informational graphics include diagrams, tables, pie charts, bar and line graphs, and flow charts. Informational graphics usually include some text and often work well to present numerical information. Consider using them if you are presenting statistics, comparing facts or data about several different groups, describing changes over time, or presenting a process.

Incorporate Audio Media

Although audio media are not as versatile as visual media, you may wish to use them if they work well with your particular topic. If your presentation discusses trends in pop music or analyzes political speeches, playing an audio clip is an obvious and effective choice. Clips from historical speeches, radio talk shows, and interviews can also be used, but extended clips may be ineffective with modern audiences. Always assess your audience’s demographics and expectations before selecting and including audio media.

Review the outline you created in Note 14.11 “Exercise 2” . Complete the following steps:

  • Identify at least two to three places in your presentation where you might incorporate visual or audio media. Brainstorm ideas for what media would be effective, and create a list of ideas. (In Chapter 14 “Creating Presentations: Sharing Your Ideas” , Section 14.2 “Incorporating Effective Visuals into a Presentation” , you will explore different media options in greater depth. For now, focus on coming up with a few general ideas.)
  • Determine whether you will use presentation software to deliver your presentation as a slideshow. If you plan to do so, begin using your outline to draft your slides.

Figure 14.2

Another screen shot of a power point

Source: http://www.agenciabrasil.gov.br/media/imagens/2010/01/14/14.01.10RP5978.jpg/view

Planning Ahead: Annotating Your Presentation

When you make a presentation, you are giving a performance of sorts. It may not be as dramatic as a play or a movie, but it requires smooth coordination of several elements—your words, your gestures, and any media you include. One way to ensure that the performance goes smoothly is to annotate your presentation ahead of time.

To annotate means to add comments or notes to a document. You can use this technique to plan how the different parts of your presentation will flow together. For instance, if you are working with slides, add notes to your outline indicating when you will show each slide. If you have other visual or audio media to include, make a note of that, too. Be as detailed as necessary. Jotting “Start video at 3:14” can spare you the awkwardness of searching for the right clip during your presentation.

In the workplace, employees are often asked to deliver presentations or conduct a meeting using standard office presentation software. If you are using presentation software, you can annotate your presentation easily as you create your slides. Use the notes feature at the bottom of the page to add notes for each slide. As you deliver your presentation, your notes will be visible to you on the computer screen but not to your audience on the projector screen.

In a face-to-face presentation, make sure your final annotated outline is easy to read. It will serve to cue you during your presentation, so it does not need to look polished, as long as it is clear to you. Double space the text. Use a larger-than-normal font size (14 or 16 points) if that will make it easier for you to read. Boldface or italics will set off text that should be emphasized or delivered with greater emotion. Write out main points, as well as your opening and closing remarks, in complete sentences, along with any material you want to quote verbatim. Use shorter phrases for supporting details. Using your speaker notes effectively will help you deliver an effective presentation. Highlighting, all capital letters, or different-colored font will help you easily distinguish notes from the text of your speech. Read Jorge’s annotated outline.

Jorge's annotated outline

Some students prefer to write out the full text of their face-to-face presentation. This can be a useful strategy when you are practicing your delivery. However, keep in mind that reading your text aloud, word for word, will not help you capture and hold your audience’s attention. Write out and read your speech if that helps you rehearse. After a few practice sessions, when you are more comfortable with your material, switch to working from an outline. That will help you sound more natural when you speak to an audience.

In a PowerPoint presentation, remember to have your slides in logical sequential order. Annotating your presentation before submitting it to your audience or your instructor will help you check for order and logical transitions. Too much text or data may confuse your audience; strive for clarity and avoid unnecessary details. Let the pictures or graphics tell the story but do not overload your slideshow with visuals. Be sure your font is visible. Look for consistency in the time limit of your presentation to gauge your level of preparedness.

Begin to annotate your outline. (You will probably add more notes as you proceed, but including some annotations now will help you begin pulling your ideas together.) Mark your outline with the following information:

  • Write notes in brackets to any sections where you definitely plan to incorporate visual or audio media.
  • If you are presenting a slideshow, add notes in brackets indicating which slides go with each section of your outline.
  • Identify and set off any text that should be emphasized.

Sometimes bolding parts in the outline is helpful

Key Takeaways

  • An effective presentation presents ideas more concisely than a written document and uses media to explain ideas and hold the audience’s interest.
  • Like an essay, a presentation should have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
  • Good writers structure their presentations on the thesis, or point of view; main ideas; and key supporting details and create a presentation outline to organize their ideas.
  • Annotating a presentation outline is a useful way to coordinate different parts of the presentation and manage time effectively.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Developing Effective Visuals

Garr Reynolds’ book  Presentation Zen  is a great introduction to effective use of slides in presentations.  Garr also maintains  a great blog on presentations . Some key points from Presentation Zen:

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 12.13.45 PM

  • Limit bullet points and text.  Keep in mind that your slides probably shouldn’t function as your own personal teleprompter. Your slides are for your students’ benefit. If your slides say just about everything that you say, then your students won’t know where to pay attention–to you or to your slides.
  • Use high-quality graphics.  The clip art that comes with PowerPoint is certainly convenient (and more visually appealing than it used to be), but there are online sources of free, high-resolution images that can have much greater visual impact. For instance, millions of photos are available for free, educational use on the photo-sharing site  Flickr  under the  Creative Commons license .

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 12.14.16 PM

  • Choose your fonts well.   Sans-serif fonts  are often easier to read on slides than  serif fonts . Too many different fonts in a slide or a presentation can be distracted, so try to limit yourself to one or two. Font size matters, too. Be sure that your fonts are large enough to be read at the back of the room. And if you’re keeping your slides simple and limiting your use of text, you can usually use very large fonts.

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 12.14.46 PM

For more thoughts on these and other suggestions by Garr Reynolds, along with example PowerPoint slides, see his  Top Ten Slide Tips .

For an alternative to PowerPoint and Keynote, try  Prezi , “the zooming presentation tool.”

For more information about using slides please check out our “Using Slides in the Classroom” Guide!

visual presentation can be made effective

Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Presentations > 5 reasons to use visual aids for speeches and presentations

5 reasons to use visual aids for speeches and presentations

A whopping 65 percent of humans are visual learners . This makes sense, considering the brain processes visual information about 60,000 times faster than text.

It also explains why it’s so important for speakers to incorporate compelling visual aids into their presentations . Impactful visuals help us communicate our ideas and messaging more effectively—no matter what type of audience we are trying to reach.

a person creating a PowerPoint presentation on their laptop.

Here are 5 facts that drill home the importance of visual aids when it comes to delivering a memorable presentation or speech.

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1. Presentation visuals grab an audience’s attention—and keep it

Human beings are naturally curious creatures but we have a short attention span—and it’s gotten worse in our current era of information overload and non-stop scrolling. When listening to a speech or presentation, audience interest peaks around the 10-minute mark and then drops precipitously depending on the content and communication style of the speaker. (A Ben Stein soundalike drolling on about duality quantum algorithms? Godspeed.) That’s why so many experts insist on capping lectures at 15 to 20 minutes or mixing up the format with 20-minute blocks. Interesting visual aids can help you do that.

They spark interest when the brain is feeling fatigued, making it easier to receive and process complex information. Think of each new visual or animation as little shots of adrenaline—capturing the waning attention of an audience and re-energizing the room. This can be especially effective when embedding picture polls, or visuals that require audience members to pull out their phones and interact with the content you’ve presented.

2. Presentation visuals make complex ideas easier to understand

Not everyone computes information at the same speed. Infographics make data-heavy presentations more digestible—breaking statistics and other figures or timelines into bite-sized chunks. They’re also more persuasive. According to a study conducted at the Wharton School of Business, 67 percent of audience members were more convinced by the content of a verbal presentation with accompanying visuals versus 50 percent with a verbal-only presentation.

3. Presentation visuals build emotional bridges with the audience

They say a picture is worth a thousand words—it’s cliché but true. Images make viewers feel things that words cannot and give presenters a way to connect with their audience on a more visceral level. (Yes, even if your audience is a bunch of humorless academics.) Instead of listing off dull facts about global warming, pop in a few slides depicting recent floods or forest fires to drive home your point. Powerful imagery, including 3D effects and visually appealing templates , resonate with audiences and makes them care more deeply about what you’re saying.

4. Presentation visuals help audiences retain information

Researchers have found that people who are asked to recall information after a three-day period retained just 10 percent of what they heard during an oral presentation, 35 percent from a visual presentation, and 65 percent from an oral presentation with visuals. You’ve worked too hard preparing your address to have the audience walk away remembering only a tiny fraction of what you said. Embracing visuals will improve the odds by six times.

5. Presentation visuals keep your speech on track

Peppering your presentation with visual aids will help you organize your talking points, avoid off-topic rambling, and even jog your memory if you get hit with a bout of stage fright.

But remember: While thoughtful visuals will make a speech or presentation much stronger, they won’t save you if you show up unprepared. The purpose of a visual aid is to engage the audience, boost their understanding of your content, ignite an emotional response, and help you convey important messaging—but it is never a substitute for preparation .

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How can you make a good presentation even more effective?

This page draws on published advice from expert presenters around the world, which will help to take your presentations from merely ‘good’ to ‘great’.

By bringing together advice from a wide range of people, the aim is to cover a whole range of areas.

Whether you are an experienced presenter, or just starting out, there should be ideas here to help you to improve.

1. Show your Passion and Connect with your Audience

It’s hard to be relaxed and be yourself when you’re nervous.

But time and again, the great presenters say that the most important thing is to connect with your audience, and the best way to do that is to let your passion for the subject shine through.

Be honest with the audience about what is important to you and why it matters.

Be enthusiastic and honest, and the audience will respond.

2. Focus on your Audience’s Needs

Your presentation needs to be built around what your audience is going to get out of the presentation.

As you prepare the presentation, you always need to bear in mind what the audience needs and wants to know, not what you can tell them.

While you’re giving the presentation, you also need to remain focused on your audience’s response, and react to that.

You need to make it easy for your audience to understand and respond.

3. Keep it Simple: Concentrate on your Core Message

When planning your presentation, you should always keep in mind the question:

What is the key message (or three key points) for my audience to take away?

You should be able to communicate that key message very briefly.

Some experts recommend a 30-second ‘elevator summary’, others that you can write it on the back of a business card, or say it in no more than 15 words.

Whichever rule you choose, the important thing is to keep your core message focused and brief.

And if what you are planning to say doesn’t contribute to that core message, don’t say it.

4. Smile and Make Eye Contact with your Audience

This sounds very easy, but a surprisingly large number of presenters fail to do it.

If you smile and make eye contact, you are building rapport , which helps the audience to connect with you and your subject. It also helps you to feel less nervous, because you are talking to individuals, not to a great mass of unknown people.

To help you with this, make sure that you don’t turn down all the lights so that only the slide screen is visible. Your audience needs to see you as well as your slides.

5. Start Strongly

The beginning of your presentation is crucial. You need to grab your audience’s attention and hold it.

They will give you a few minutes’ grace in which to entertain them, before they start to switch off if you’re dull. So don’t waste that on explaining who you are. Start by entertaining them.

Try a story (see tip 7 below), or an attention-grabbing (but useful) image on a slide.

6. Remember the 10-20-30 Rule for Slideshows

This is a tip from Guy Kawasaki of Apple. He suggests that slideshows should:

  • Contain no more than 10 slides;
  • Last no more than 20 minutes; and
  • Use a font size of no less than 30 point.

This last is particularly important as it stops you trying to put too much information on any one slide. This whole approach avoids the dreaded ‘Death by PowerPoint’.

As a general rule, slides should be the sideshow to you, the presenter. A good set of slides should be no use without the presenter, and they should definitely contain less, rather than more, information, expressed simply.

If you need to provide more information, create a bespoke handout and give it out after your presentation.

7. Tell Stories

Human beings are programmed to respond to stories.

Stories help us to pay attention, and also to remember things. If you can use stories in your presentation, your audience is more likely to engage and to remember your points afterwards. It is a good idea to start with a story, but there is a wider point too: you need your presentation to act like a story.

Think about what story you are trying to tell your audience, and create your presentation to tell it.

Finding The Story Behind Your Presentation

To effectively tell a story, focus on using at least one of the two most basic storytelling mechanics in your presentation:

Focusing On Characters – People have stories; things, data, and objects do not. So ask yourself “who” is directly involved in your topic that you can use as the focal point of your story.

For example, instead of talking about cars (your company’s products), you could focus on specific characters like:

  • The drivers the car is intended for – people looking for speed and adventure
  • The engineers who went out of their way to design the most cost-effective car imaginable

A Changing Dynamic – A story needs something to change along the way. So ask yourself “What is not as it should be?” and answer with what you are going to do about it (or what you did about it).

For example…

  • Did hazardous road conditions inspire you to build a rugged, all-terrain jeep that any family could afford?
  • Did a complicated and confusing food labelling system lead you to establish a colour-coded nutritional index so that anybody could easily understand it?

To see 15 more actionable storytelling tips, see Nuts & Bolts Speed Training’s post on Storytelling Tips .

8. Use your Voice Effectively

The spoken word is actually a pretty inefficient means of communication, because it uses only one of your audience’s five senses. That’s why presenters tend to use visual aids, too. But you can help to make the spoken word better by using your voice effectively.

Varying the speed at which you talk, and emphasising changes in pitch and tone all help to make your voice more interesting and hold your audience’s attention.

For more about this, see our page on Effective Speaking .

9. Use your Body Too

It has been estimated that more than three quarters of communication is non-verbal.

That means that as well as your tone of voice, your body language is crucial to getting your message across. Make sure that you are giving the right messages: body language to avoid includes crossed arms, hands held behind your back or in your pockets, and pacing the stage.

Make your gestures open and confident, and move naturally around the stage, and among the audience too, if possible.

10. Relax, Breathe and Enjoy

If you find presenting difficult, it can be hard to be calm and relaxed about doing it.

One option is to start by concentrating on your breathing. Slow it down, and make sure that you’re breathing fully. Make sure that you continue to pause for breath occasionally during your presentation too.

For more ideas, see our page on Coping with Presentation Nerves .

If you can bring yourself to relax, you will almost certainly present better. If you can actually start to enjoy yourself, your audience will respond to that, and engage better. Your presentations will improve exponentially, and so will your confidence. It’s well worth a try.

Improve your Presentation Skills

Follow our guide to boost your presentation skills learning about preparation, delivery, questions and all other aspects of giving effective presentations.

Start with: What is a Presentation?

Continue to: How to Give a Speech Self Presentation

See also: Five Ways You Can Do Visual Marketing on a Budget Can Presentation Science Improve Your Presentation? Typography – It’s All About the Message in Your Slides

How to create visual presentations and eLearning

  • Written by: Richard Goring
  • Categories: PowerPoint design , Visual communication
  • Comments: 4

visual presentation can be made effective

Most presentations are a cascade of text-heavy Death-by-PowerPoint slides, while online learners suffer the torture of wading through page after page of brochures converted to click-through-eLearning. However you look at it, a wall of text doesn’t work to engage people or compel them to action, so it really can’t be effective. That’s why most people now recognize that using visuals is the way to go. But how do you create visual presentations and eLearning that works? We think there are six steps you need to follow.

Step 1. Understand the audience

visual presentation can be made effective

To know how to make a presentation effective, you need to understand the person on the receiving end and also decide what you’re trying to achieve. Are you trying to inform the audience of something – i.e. give them information they don’t have and help them understand it. Or persuade them to do something or change their behaviour – i.e. convince the audience the reasons to act in a certain way are stronger than the reasons not to. (Selling is typically a subset of this).

And it’s worth noting that a lot of the time, when you’re trying to inform people of something as your primary objective, you’ll also need to do at least a little persuasion, to get them to believe that your information is valid, valuable, and worth acting upon. Likewise, if you’re persuading people, you need to inform your audience so that they understand enough to be able to buy into your ideas.

When informing, you should have a clear idea of what exactly you are trying to inform about, and note it down in a couple of words so that you can easily refer back to it throughout the process.

If you’re persuading people, the same thing applies, but more specifically, we find it most helpful to think about this in terms of how the audience will benefit. What’s in it for them?

The options are many and various, but something short and punchy helps you to focus your story on what’s important to your audience and will make the story worth listening to.

Step 2: Identify key message or story

visual presentation can be made effective

Now you need to decide what information to present to your audience in order to achieve your goal. And assess how much your audience already know about the topic, so you don’t repeat unnecessarily.

Typically, anything you’re attempting to visualise into a visual presentation has a lot of detailed content with relatively little structure. So to help, we recommend you simplify down to the core message in a nicely structured way that’s easy to understand, which then helps you to pick out what detail is most important and how to bring everything together.

Then take the necessary pieces of information and organise them into a story that flows, so it’s easy to follow. Often the framework of Problem -> Solution -> Impact is a good one to follow.

  • Problem sets up the context and shows why this is something people need to know and pay attention to. It helps to frame the rest of the story.
  • Solution is the details of what happens, or how something works.
  • Impact is the end result – that will often lead to the outcome that your audience will achieve.

Step 3: Identify key objects

visual presentation can be made effective

The next job, within these short sentences, is to identify the objects that are crucial to telling the story.

Person, role, company – Typically these are physical things, like objects or people. You can easily spot some of these – any mention of people, groups of people, job roles, or companies, could be represented by a photo of someone, or a silhouette, or a logo.

Object, product – You may have things that aren’t people, but are still easily recognizable entities, like objects – a computer, a phone, a bicycle, a hippopotamus – or a product or service, which might be a little bit more abstract, like ‘consulting’ or ‘water treatment’ – but still a concept that you can easily put a label on. Pretty straightforward visually, you could use an icon if you just want to get across the idea of a deliverable, or a photo of the product, or a label of the product or service, or you might even have a logo for it, especially if it’s something fairly abstract.

Quote – If you want to show a direct quote from someone, try to keep it short and to the point. It should really speak for itself, which means you’re going to have to keep quiet and let the audience read it.

Location – Then you might have locations – a point on a map, like a city, or maybe a type of building, like a hospital or office tower, or it could be an office floor plan. It could be something more abstract like an objective or a target you’re aiming towards.

Data, measurable – And then you might be able to pick out some data, like figures, percentages, dates, costs, that sort of thing, or some kind of measurable quantity, which are similar but they’re more vague – concepts that you can quantify, but that don’t really have any ‘number’ attached to them – things like a level of risk, or confidence, or effort.

That’s a starter gallery of different types of key objects. What these things all have in common is that they can all be represented with some sort of visual device that can be easily recognized, so you don’t have to do too much explanation and the audience doesn’t spend too long trying to figure out what it is. You might be using pictures, or icons, or labels to represent these things to create your visual presentation, or they might make up part of a diagram, which is what we’re going to look at in the next part of the process.

Step 4: Establish relationships

visual presentation can be made effective

Once you know what’s involved in the story, start to look at the relationships between each of the key objects, and how they interact, which will give you the layout of the slide, the framework, or the diagram. There are plenty of options, but there are a few reliable regulars that you can draw on.

First you’ve got your different types of graph , which will probably be the first choice if you’re showing data. You could make an XY graph , two axes, and the data might be bars or lines, or an XYZ graph that shows a three dimensional data set, which might shrink or stretch across the three axes.  A pie chart , to show proportions – this might be useful if you have percentages, as long as they all belong to the same category. Or you could have a Matrix arrangement, showing where elements are placed in different regions.

Then you’ve got a few ways of laying out elements that are distinct from one another. If you’ve got a sequence of dates in your information, a timeline might be a good choice, or if you haven’t you could just show a process diagram . You might just want to lay out the elements in a two dimensional space , or play around with the proportions to make a three dimensional scene , to add focus in on some elements and put others in the background. A hierarchy arrangement can show how elements are ranked in layers, useful for organization diagrams , or you could use a mind-map style layout to show connections between one big idea and a few other ideas that are linked up to it, or to each other.

A few other options for showing how things relate to one another might be a cluster or Venn diagram , to show connections or intersections between ideas, a jigsaw if you’ve got a number of things that fit together to form a larger picture, or just to get the idea across that a couple of things are well-suited to one another, and if you’re talking about a causal relationship, where one thing directly affects another, a balance diagram might work well, or a sequence that shows a push-pull relationship between two things.

This is a fairly small selection of the types of layouts you could come up with to create a visual presentation or eLearning, and a lot of slides might use two or more of these at once in order to get a complex idea across. To work out which ones to go for, you’ll have to look at your information and think about how you’d explain it, the order you’d point to your key objects, and how those key objects are related to one another. Crucially, you also have to think about the overarching message that the slide is supposed to be getting across, which you established in steps 1 and 2.

Step 5: Create visuals

visual presentation can be made effective

Now is the time to bring everything together. The individual key objects that you’ve got, with the layouts that show the relationships between them. Think about the order you want the story to be told, which will inform the layout of your visual slides, but also the sequence in which you’ll want to use the individual elements. And animations are a real help here, as they can pace the flow of information and ensure that you keep the audience focused on the right thing at the right time. They can also be a key part of actually telling the story, to make things happen, change elements, and emphasize the relationships between your key objects.

So if you’re introducing new ideas you can add things onto the slide. If you’re simplifying a diagram or removing things you don’t need, you can remove . You can make things grow , or shrink to show changing amounts, or changing importance, and you can make things move around to new locations. If you want to combine elements together you can merge them into one, or connect them together. You can highlight something that’s especially important, for your key message, and show something being passed along from one person to another, or data being transferred. You can also change something into something else, by replacing it.

Again, there are countless examples of these, and you’ll probably want to use a few of them for each slide, but this should give you a few good ideas of ways to move your key objects around, change the relationships, and end up with the right kind of visual punchline. These things can all be done with native PowerPoint animation (and check our animation articles  and masterclass schedule for a lesson on animation if you’re not already a master at it!).

Step 6: Design

visual presentation can be made effective

What you should have now is an idea or sketch of everything that’s going to happen on your slide to tell the story. You ‘just’ need to bring it to life and share your ideas. That’s not always an easy task, but if you check out this post by my colleague Bethany on some practical tips to achieve good presentation design , this post on some of our favorite websites for free design resources , and this one on presentation design in general, you’ll have a good head start. And of course the various PowerPoint tutorials and master classes are a wealth of information to help you out.

And if you’d like to see some examples of presentations that we’ve developed using these ideas, and then created in PowerPoint, you can draw inspiration from our presentation portfolio , showing you that pretty much anything is possible in PowerPoint.

visual presentation can be made effective

Richard Goring

Related articles, how to create powerpoint templates that work.

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Without a proper PowerPoint template, presentations can be a bit of a mess. Here are the building blocks for developing a PowerPoint template that works!

visual presentation can be made effective

Presentation design principles for better PowerPoint design

  • PowerPoint design / PowerPoint productivity
  • Comments: 17

By applying some key principles of presentation design, you can make your PowerPoint design really standout and deliver both a more ‘popping’, but also more effective presentation.

visual presentation can be made effective

How to print multiple slides on one page

What’s the secret for how to print multiple PowerPoint slides on one page? We've got a few solutions up our sleeves, from simple and quick to completely custom!

visual presentation can be made effective

Thank you very much, you are helping me to understand how to produce presentations so my students will want to see and learn from.

Great Estrella, lovely to hear that it’s working so well.

Its really helpful, thanks for providing such informative data in a unique way.

Just came across this while searching for Colour-Vision-Deficient-friendly PowerPoint tips. Aside from giving excellent advice, it’s wild that you’ve got graphics of what looks like Coronavirus in an article from 2017 – did you know something we didn’t 🙂 ?

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BrightCarbon creates compelling visuals and storylines, helping us to convey value in a fiercely competitive marketplace. Neil Davidson Deltek

visual presentation can be made effective

17 PowerPoint Presentation Tips to Make More Creative Slideshows [+ Templates]

Jamie Cartwright

Published: August 16, 2023

Creating a great PowerPoint presentation is a skill that any professional can benefit from. The problem? It’s really easy to get it wrong. From poor color choices to confusing slides, a bad PowerPoint slideshow can distract from the fantastic content you’re sharing with stakeholders on your team.

powerpoint tricks

That’s why it’s so important to learn how to create a PowerPoint presentation from the ground up, starting with your slides. Even if you’re familiar with PowerPoint, a refresher will help you make a more attractive, professional slideshow. Let’s get started.

How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation

  • Presentation Tips

PowerPoint Design

I like to think of Microsoft PowerPoint as a test of basic professional skills. To create a passing presentation, I need to demonstrate design skills, technical literacy, and a sense of personal style.

If the presentation has a problem (like an unintended font, a broken link, or unreadable text), then I’ve probably failed the test. Even if my spoken presentation is well rehearsed, a bad visual experience can ruin it for the audience.

Expertise means nothing without a good PowerPoint presentation to back it up. For starters, grab your collection of free PowerPoint templates below.

visual presentation can be made effective

10 Free PowerPoint Templates

Download ten free PowerPoint templates for a better presentation.

  • Creative templates.
  • Data-driven templates.
  • Professional templates.

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Tell us a little about yourself below to gain access today.

No matter your topic, successful PowerPoints depend on three main factors: your command of PowerPoint's design tools, your attention to presentation processes, and your devotion to consistent style. Here are some simple tips to help you start mastering each of those factors, and don't forget to check out the additional resources at the bottom of this post.

A presentation is made up of multiple slides, let's delve deeper into PowerPoint's capabilities.

Getting Started

1. open powerpoint and click ‘new.’.

If a page with templates doesn‘t automatically open, go to the top left pane of your screen and click New. If you’ve already created a presentation, select Open then double-click the icon to open the existing file.

visual presentation can be made effective

powerpoint presentation: types of fonts

That said, you can still use fun and eccentric fonts — in moderation. Offsetting a fun font or large letters with something more professional can create an engaging presentation.

Above all, be sure you're consistent so your presentation looks the same throughout each slide. That way, your audience doesn't become distracted by too many disparate fonts. Check out this example from HubSpot’s company profile templates:

Interested in this presentation template? Download it for free here.

5. Make sure all of your objects are properly aligned.

Having properly aligned objects on your slide is the key to making it look polished and professional. You can manually try to line up your images ... but we all know how that typically works out. You're trying to make sure all of your objects hang out in the middle of your slide, but when you drag them there, it still doesn't look quite right. Get rid of your guessing game and let PowerPoint work its magic with this trick.

Here’s how to align multiple objects:

  • Select all objects by holding down Shift and clicking on all of them.
  • Select Arrange in the top options bar, then choose Align or Distribute .
  • Choose the type of alignment you'd like.

Here’s how to align objects to the slide:

  • Select Align to Slide .
  • Select Arrange in the top options bar again, then choose Align or Distribute .

6. Use "Format Object" to better control your objects' designs.

Format menus allow you to do fine adjustments that otherwise seem impossible. To do this, right-click on an object and select the Format Object option. Here, you can fine-tune shadows, adjust shape measurements, create reflections, and much more. The menu that will pop up looks like this:

powerpoint presentation: format object pane

Although the main options can be found on PowerPoint’s format toolbars, look for complete control in the format window menu. Other examples of options available include:

  • Adjusting text inside a shape.
  • Creating a natural perspective shadow behind an object.
  • Recoloring photos manually and with automatic options.

7. Take advantage of PowerPoint's shapes.

Many users don’t realize how flexible PowerPoint’s shape tools have become. In combination with the expanded format options released by Microsoft, the potential for good design with shapes is readily available. PowerPoint provides the user with a bunch of great shape options beyond the traditional rectangle, oval, and rounded rectangle patterns.

Today’s shapes include a highly functional Smart Shapes function, which enables you to create diagrams and flow charts in no time. These tools are especially valuable when you consider that PowerPoint is a visual medium. Paragraphing and bullet lists are boring — you can use shapes to help express your message more clearly.

8. Create custom shapes.

When you create a shape, right click and press Edit Points . By editing points, you can create custom shapes that fit your specific need. For instance, you can reshape arrows to fit the dimensions you like.

Another option is to combine two shapes together. To do so, select the two shapes you’d like to work with, then click Shape Format in the top ribbon. Tap Merge Shapes .

You’ll see a variety of options.

  • Combine creates a custom shape that has overlapping portions of the two previous shapes cut out.
  • Union makes one completely merged shape.
  • Intersect builds a shape of only the overlapping sections of the two previous shapes.
  • Subtract cuts out the overlapping portion of one shape from the other.
  • Fragment will split your shape into different parts depending on where they overlap.

By using these tools rather than trying to edit points precisely, you can create accurately measured custom shapes.

9. Crop images into custom shapes.

Besides creating custom shapes in your presentation, you can also use PowerPoint to crop existing images into new shapes. Here's how you do that:

  • Click on the image and select Picture Format in the options bar.
  • Choose Crop , then Crop to Shape , and then choose your desired shape. Ta-da! Custom-shaped photos.

10. Present websites within PowerPoint.

Tradition says that if you want to show a website in a PowerPoint, you should just create a link to the page and prompt a browser to open. For PC users, there’s a better option.

Third party software that integrates fully into PowerPoint’s developer tab can be used to embed a website directly into your PowerPoint using a normal HTML iframe. One of the best tools is LiveWeb , a third-party software that you can install on your PowerPoint program.

By using LiveWeb, you don’t have to interrupt your PowerPoint, and your presentation will remain fluid and natural. Whether you embed a whole webpage or just a YouTube video, this can be a high-quality third party improvement. To install the add-on, simple head to the LiveWeb website and follow the instructions.

Unfortunately, Mac users don’t have a similar option. A good second choice is to take screenshots of the website, link in through a browser, or embed media (such as a YouTube video) by downloading it directly to your computer.

11. Try Using GIFs.

GIFs are looped animated images used to communicate a mood, idea, information, and much more. Users add GIFs to PowerPoints to be funny or quickly demo a process. It's easy to add GIFs to your slides. To do so, simply follow these steps:

  • Download and save the GIF you want.
  • Go to the slide you want the GIF on.
  • Go to the Home tab, and click either Insert or Picture .
  • From the Picture drop-down menu, choose Picture from File .
  • Navigate to where you saved your GIF and select it. Then, choose Insert .
  • It will play automatically the moment you insert it.

PowerPoint Process

12. keep it simple..

PowerPoint is an excellent tool to support your presentation with visual information, graphics, and supplemental points. This means that your PowerPoint should not be your entire presentation. Your slides — no matter how creative and beautiful — shouldn't be the star of the show. Keep your text and images clear and concise, using them only to supplement your message and authority.

If your slides have dense and cluttered information, it will both distract your audience and make it much more likely that you will lose their attention. Nothing in your slides should be superfluous! Keep your presentation persuasive by keeping it clean. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Limit bullet points and text.
  • Avoid paragraphs and long quotes.
  • Maintain "white space" or "negative space".
  • Keep percentages, graphs, and data super basic.

13. Embed your font files.

One constant problem presenters have with PowerPoint is that fonts seem to change when presenters move from one computer to another. In reality, the fonts are not changing — the presentation computer just doesn’t have the same font files installed . If you’re using a PC and presenting on a PC, then there is a smooth workaround for this issue.

Here’s the trick: When you save your PowerPoint file (only on a PC), you should click File , then Options, then open up the Save tab. Then, select the Embed fonts in the file check box under Preserve fidelity when sharing this presentation . Now, your presentation will keep the font file and your fonts will not change when you move computers.

The macOS PowerPoint version has a similar function. To embed your fonts on a Mac, do the following:

  • Open up your presentation.
  • On the top bar, click PowerPoint , then click Preferences .
  • Under Output and Sharing , click Save .
  • Under Font Embedding , click Embed fonts in the file.

14. Save your slides as a PDF file for backup purposes.

If you’re still scared of your presentation showing up differently when it’s time to present, you should create a PDF version just in case. This is a good option if you’ll be presenting on a different computer. If you also run into an issue where the presenting computer doesn’t have PowerPoint installed, you can also use the system viewer to open up the PDF. No laptop will ever give you trouble with this file type.

The only caveat is that your GIFs, animations, and transitions won’t transfer over. But since the PDF will only work as a backup, not as your primary copy, this should be okay.

To save your presentation as a PDF file, take the following steps:

  • Go to File , then click Save as …
  • In the pop-up window, click File Format.
  • A drop-down menu will appear. Select PDF .
  • Click Export .

You can also go to File , then Export , then select PDF from the file format menu.

15. Embed multimedia.

PowerPoint allows you to either link to video/audio files externally or to embed the media directly in your presentation. You should embed these files if you can, but if you use a Mac, you cannot actually embed the video (see note below). For PCs, two great reasons for embedding are:

  • Embedding allows you to play media directly in your presentation. It will look much more professional than switching between windows.
  • Embedding also means that the file stays within the PowerPoint presentation, so it should play normally without extra work (except on a Mac).

Note: macOS users of PowerPoint should be extra careful about using multimedia files.

If you use PowerPoint for Mac, then you will always need to bring the video and/or audio file with you in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation. It’s best to only insert video or audio files once the presentation and the containing folder have been saved on a portable drive in their permanent folder. Also, if the presentation will be played on a Windows computer, then Mac users need to make sure their multimedia files are in WMV format. This tip gets a bit complicated, so if you want to use PowerPoint effectively, consider using the same operating system for designing and presenting, no matter what.

16. Bring your own hardware.

Between operating systems, PowerPoint is still a bit jumpy. Even between differing PPT versions, things can change. One way to fix these problems is to make sure that you have the right hardware — so just bring along your own laptop when you're presenting.

If you’re super concerned about the different systems you might have to use, then upload your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides as a backup option. Google Slides is a cloud-based presentation software that will show up the same way on all operating systems. The only thing you need is an internet connection and a browser.

To import your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides, take the following steps:

  • Navigate to slides.google.com . Make sure you’re signed in to a Google account, preferably your own.
  • Under Start a new presentation , click the empty box with a plus sign. This will open up a blank presentation.
  • Go to File , then Import slides .
  • A dialog box will come up. Tap Upload , then click Select a file from your device .
  • Select your presentation and click Open .
  • Select the slides you’d like to import. If you want to import all of them, click All in the upper right-hand corner of the dialog box.
  • Click Import slides.

powerpoint presentation: importing slides into google slides

When I tested this out, Google Slides imported everything perfectly, including a shape whose points I had manipulated. This is a good backup option to have if you’ll be presenting across different operating systems.

17. Use Presenter View.

In most presentation situations, there will be both a presenter’s screen and the main projected display for your presentation. PowerPoint has a great tool called Presenter View, which can be found in the Slide Show tab of PowerPoint. Included in the Presenter View is an area for notes, a timer/clock, and a presentation display.

powerpoint presentation: using presenter view

For many presenters, this tool can help unify their spoken presentation and their visual aid. You never want to make the PowerPoint seem like a stack of notes that you’re reading off of. Use the Presenter View option to help create a more natural presentation.

Pro Tip: At the start of the presentation, you should also hit CTRL + H to make the cursor disappear. Hitting the "A" key will bring it back if you need it!

Your Next Great PowerPoint Presentation Starts Here

With style, design, and presentation processes under your belt, you can do a lot more with PowerPoint than just presentations for your clients. PowerPoint and similar slide applications are flexible tools that should not be forgotten. With a great template, you can be on your way to creating presentations that wow your audience.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Blog - Beautiful PowerPoint Presentation Template [List-Based]

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    A. Graphic Design Tips Perhaps the quickest route is to take some inspiration from the realm of graphic design, with three quick tips: Cut down the amount of text on your slides to just a couple of words per point. It gives you a cue for the message but means that the point isn't completely self-explanatory.

  25. How Technology Can Boost Your Client Presentation Skills

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  26. CRediT author statement

    Methodology. Development or design of methodology; creation of models. Software. Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components. Validation. Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication ...