We’ve been told time and again-
‘Don’t forget the power of visual aids.’ ‘Visual aids in presentations are a must’ ‘Always choose visuals over text’ But why? Be it a scientific, academic, or professional presentation, made on any software- Keynote, Google Slides, or PowerPoint, the point is-
Visuals are as close to magic as you can get
A great visual with sparse text will allow you to make your point in a much stronger way that you would be able to with bullet points sprayed across the presentation. Visuals allow people to understand, pay attention, remember, and absorb the information shared with them. Still not convinced? Let’s help you understand this better.
Visuals allow you to save time
A wise man once said time is money. Another wise man said that a picture speaks 1,000 words. If we combine both these two wise men’s sayings, we’ll understand exactly how fast pictures help people understand, sometimes just at a glance. If we were to flip this around on us, the presentation creators, we would see how easy visuals make things. Would you explain something in 200 words or simply drag and drop a picture to say the exact same thing? It’s always easier to add a picture than write out unnecessary details. Once you create a good workflow with a visual database you’ll see how easy it becomes to take out the text from your presentation and turn it into a visual powerhouse in minutes.
Visuals allow you to grab and retain your audience’s attention
Do you want to get someones’ attention? Well too bad, it’s not going to be easy. With the world roaming around with a portable computer in their pockets, escaping to a different world is easier than it ever was. The second you’re bored you have the option to do something else. Let’s be honest, having a presentation strewn with information is the quickest way to get the members of your audience reach for their phones. Death by PowerPoint happens more than we’d like to believe. Even though it’s relatively easy to put the blame on technology, social media, and GenZ, the problem lies with our presentation and the lack of visual aids in it. Kim Cullen, the senior design director at Ideao says,
Visual design is the emotional bridge between functionality and human experience
At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to keep our audience engaged. Since we already know that our brains prefer visuals over text, we might as well use top-notch visual aids in our presentation and format them properly to significantly raise the chances of the audience actually paying attention to our slides instead of their mobile phones.
Images allow your audience to understand the material better and quickly
If your PowerPoint presentation is stuffed with so much text that your audience can’t even pay attention to your slides, how do you expect them to understand what you’re saying? This is why using images becomes so important. Let’s quickly understand how our minds work. There are two parts to our memory- the working memory and the cognitive load. The working memory is that space of the brain through which we think, process, and try to fit every new piece of information. In this process, it’s very easy for the mind to get overwhelmed, more so, if there are tonnes of distractions, leaving us tired and confused. A sure shot way to get your audience overwhelmed is by speaking to them and showing them a presentation full of text at the same time. The only way you can get your presentation to work its way to the audience’s memory stage is by incorporating more pictures and erasing the text out of your slides. It doesn’t matter if it’s an academic or scientific presentation you’re working on. Visuals make your presentation more accessible, less exclusive, and more in line with universal design strategies. To make sure your brand comes across as user friendly, use visual aids.
Visuals help with long term memory retention
There’s a condition called Aphantasia where someone cannot picture the images you portray through simple words or text. For example, if you were asked to picture a blue moon, would you see a blue moon in your mind’s eye or would you see darkness? Most people would see that blue moon in their minds but for people who have Aphantasia, they will probably see darkness. Most of us take this ability to convert words to visuals for granted but it’s actually pretty difficult to process and then visualize information that is presented in simple text form. So when we create slides stuffed with text, we assume that our audience can simply picture and imagine what we’re saying, but a lot of people cannot understand or follow along without the support of visuals. So if they don’t understand what you share, how do you expect them to store it in their long term memory? Worse is people storing whatever incorrect information they understand from your text into their long term memory because they couldn’t follow along. To avoid this, you need to make visuals your best friend. Research tells us that visuals combined with a line or two of text increase the chances of information making it through to long-term memory. Visuals will thus always have a clear advantage over slides crammed with text.
Visuals resonate with people and inspire them to take action
Whether you’re looking for your students to ace their exam or you want potential investors to believe in your company, or simply want your clients to purchase from you, the ultimate goal of every presentation is to get your audience to take action by doing something with the information you provide them. So let’s understand this. How is your presentation going to inspire people if they couldn’t pay attention to it? Got confused by it? Misunderstood your points? Forgot all about it the next day? Didn’t enjoy the experience at all? Were bored the whole time? Great visuals, however, have the power to get people to understand, pay attention, remember, and increase the worth and quality of your presentations. When you begin using impactful visuals consistently, you will slowly see a decrease in the amount of time you spent answering basic questions for your audience.
Always remember that the most creative visuals are the most impactful
Torrie T. Asai once said, “Creativity is nothing but a mindset free” For you to showcase the most amazing visuals, allow your mind to breathe and wander around for inspiration till it strikes gold. Go on, create your own visual style that’s unique for you, and most importantly, identifiable for others.