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Get Your Presentation Message Across

April 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 175

I recommend to anyone willing to listen that visual presentations are the way to go. Presentations using video and PowerPoint are one of the best ways to convey your ideas and to convince your audience. Don't take my word for it. A study by famous psychologist Albert Mehrabian indicated that the way people absorbed information during a presentation was 55% visual, compared to 38% vocal and only 7% through text.

However, simply adding visuals to a presentation hoping for better attention and retention is fraught with pitfalls. I sit in on a lot of presentations, and have identified a number of traps people fall into. The most common are...

Bullet points. I see a lot of presentations using bullet points. While they're fast and easy to use, bullet points are a poor way of getting your message across. According to research carried out at UCLA, a visual presentation is five times more likely to be remembered after three days than a presentation using bullet points. Remember, Dr. Mehrabian's study indicated that 55% of an audience absorbs visual presentations using video or PowerPoint, while only 7% retain textual information, and bullet points are text.

Poor image selection. I've seen far too many video slide show or PowerPoint presentations employing visuals obtained from the royalty free photo CDs or downloaded from stock photo websites. These photos have models showing surprise, happiness, or whatever emotion the presentation creator deemed relevant to the content. The problem is, there is a good chance someone in the audience has seen such photos before, taking away any impact the use of the photo was supposed to have had. Likewise, some of the poses in royalty free photos are so amateurish it's possible audience members conclude the presenter or the company he or she represents are amateurs as well. Lastly, photos offered royalty free are often older work photographers sell off once they feel the images have exceeded their marketable shelf life. Being older, the fashions, background content, or props appear outdated. I'm convinced that anyone watching what appears to be an outdated presentation will unconsciously, or even consciously, assume the product or service message is outdated as well. Taking a little extra time, and maybe spending a few dollars, to have the right visuals included in your presentation will result in greater attention by your audience, better retention of your message, and you being taken more seriously.

Clip Art. Clip Art used to be a great way of making a presentation visual, way back when computers were less powerful and a presentation had be small enough to fit on a floppy disk. Nowadays, presentations using clip art appear incredibly outdated, especially when compared to those using colour photographs or computer generated graphics.

Poor quality visuals. I've seen far too many visual presentations that were excellent content wise let down by the use of poor quality photos, graphics or even company logos. The problem with these images usually is because they were taken from web pages. Websites use smaller, lower resolution images than what I recommend for a PowerPoint or video slide-show presentation. My rule of thumb when creating presentations using graphics or photos is to start with the highest resolution, largest image size I can find and then reduce it to fit. I'd never increase the size of images because doing so causes images to lose clarity and makes a presentation look amateurish.

Copyright. You find the perfect image for your presentation and are tempted to download it to use in your presentation. Don't! Before using any images, graphics or photographs, you must first obtain the permission of the copyright owner. Getting permission is often as simple as emailing a request to the photographer or webmaster asking to use the image. Maybe the owner will want to be given credit, maybe even a link their their website. Occasionally there will be a copyright license fee asked for, which must be paid if the image is to be used. If you don't, you could end up with the copyright owner claiming damages for copyright infringement. You could use stolen images and get away with it, but you never know who might be in your audience, possibly the copyright owner. It's more likely you'd be found out if your presentation was distributed electronically and an image with an invisible digital water mark hidden in it was used.

Off topic images. Images used in a presentation should help tell your story. Images used for decoration or simply to fill space that have little, if anything to do with the content of your presentation, are more likely to confuse your audience than impress them. A perfect example of what not to do was a a presentation I given at an insurance industry trade show. Within the presentation was a photo of a family seated in an automobile. I assumed the insurance company making the presentation provided vehicle related insurance, as did a number of people I spoke with. However, the insurance company provided only life, disability and accidental death insurance. The idea of including a photo of a family together was to subtly suggest insurance was a responsibility of parents. Unfortunately, the photo choice of a family driving resulted in many in the audience to assume the company was a provider of vehicle related insurance. The visual portion of the presentation conflicted with the topic, but being the more powerful attention and retention tool, the image instilled the wrong message. Choose your images based on context or risk your message being misunderstood.

Long Video clips. I'm all for adding video clips into a visual presentation. However, an audience's attention span when watching a video is very short. Standard company videos created for marketing or to inform the public of products and services tend to be between three and ten minutes long. Unfortunately, the audience at a presentation will start to lose interest after 60 seconds and switch off completely after two minutes. If you're going to include a video in your presentation that is more than a minute long, either edit it down, or better still create shorter versions specifically for use in presentations.

Using visual content in presentations, whether videos, slide shows, photos, or a combination, is something I strongly recommend, provided you invest time in choosing the right images or video. Avoid these few common pitfalls and you'll have an informative and entertaining enough presentation to hold the interest of your audience and have your message received and retained.

Len Bowcott has been involved in advertising since the 80s and online marketing since 1995. Clients seeking Len's counsel about enhancing their online presence enjoy a unique relationship. Len will get their blog or website on Google's first page of search results for the keywords agreed upon, and then be paid for service. Contact Len Bowcott to enhance your online presence now at Blog

Source: EzineArticles
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