In the first part of our PowerPoint Templates Makeover, we ran through some of the most common things that help make a business presentation totally forgettable. We always listed unappealing ingredients that are guaranteed to leave audiences utterly unimpressed. In this next installment, we're going to present some simple strategies for adding some professional PowerPoint polish to your next project.
Setting Out Your Strategy
Your objective is to achieve a harmonious relationship between your words and visual elements. You want your presentation to express an idea with intriguing clarity. While we can't tell you the exact words or content you should use, sorry. That said, experience and research help us identify several techniques for producing more engaging presentations:
- Think about how the text and visual elements will work together. Don’t just write text first and have pictures or visuals as tacked on extras.
- Use fresh idea and words–if you’ve seen a similar phrase or style of image in another PowerPoint, think carefully about your message. Consider what including unoriginal content will add to your argument or point–you don't want your adoring audience to slip into a game of ‘buzzword bingo’.
- Customize your presentation for every audience. There’s a lot of white noise in the business world, and it can be easy to switch off from something too general or not relevant enough. Tailor your presentation to the specific audience and setting.
- Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to completely rewrite every slide every time-use templates for presenting on the same theme to different audiences but have routines for easily adapting each template.
- For example, use a reliable image source and build up a library of relevant images and visual elements. That way, you can easily swap files in seconds, rather than hunt for new images from a range of sources each time, wasting valuable time. This makes repurposing old images easier as well.
Nailing Your Images
We talked about the wrong pictures to use last time, so what are the right kinds of images to include? Unfortunately, while it’s easy to spot worn-out and overused themes, it’s a little harder to say what constitutes the right image. There is no one ‘killer’ image or style that will be right every time. It’s about finding the best fitting picture for your specific presentation and audience, and, if possible, adding a creative twist. To help you do this you should follow some basic rules:
- Before you search for images, think of the specific purpose of your presentation–your end goal.
- Think about your audience members–young, old, creatives, traditional/conservative, etc.
- Consider the setting it will be delivered in–formal, informal, internal, external, etc.
- Whatever else you do, make sure your images are high quality; audiences expect high concept visual content as a standard nowadays. Make sure you know how to find professional photos with the correct legal user permissions without spending hours online.
- Don’t use an image that doesn’t stick in your mind after you’ve seen it for the first time.
An excellent strategy for choosing pictures is called the ‘visual subtext’ technique. Research carried out by our good friends at Eyeful Presentations showed this strategy to be consistently successful in positively impacting audiences. And it doesn’t rely on a specific style of image. Instead, it involves selecting an image which must first be processed by the viewer before they fully understand it. The cognitive action this provokes adds extra resonance to the image for a greater lasting impression and reinforcing your point. In stimulating your audiences to have to think, your force them to remember with increased clarity.