It happens so now and then that, just when you want to start your presentation, a message shows up on the screen behind you that urges you to replace the projector lamp… Luckily for me, the last time this happened, there was an A/V technician around who fixed the problem in a matter of minutes, and I could deliver my talk as planned.
This incident, however, made me reflect about why we –business presenters and public speakers– are actually so addicted to slideware, and why some of us seem to be completely helpless without Powerpoint, Keynote or Prezi.
- Surely we’re all part of a visual culture. In our daily lives we are bombarded with a plethora of (static and moving) images offered by billboards, magazines, TV, social media and web pages that “help” us better ingest, digest, and retain information. Illustrations can make things more clear, more visible or more manifest. Children’s books are often illustrated with colorful pictures. The illustrations are as much a part of the experience with the content as the written text.
- Some speakers (including me) are picture thinkers. I design my presentations on the back of a napkin and, most of the time, I have a graphical representation in mind even before I know the exact words of what I am going to tell. If you’re in the same situation, then make sure that what you show is complementary to what you say.
- Other presenters use slides because they have a bad memory –at least that’s the excuse they come up with for not spending enough time on preparation and rehearsal– or want to add a level of detail to their story that is too complex for oral transmission. Data visualizations and infographics are good examples of how pictures may add value to words. But always beware of texty slides and bulleted lists!
Next time I enter the stage, I might just ignore the projector (even when the lamp is not broken) and start presenting “naked”… Stay tuned for a testimonial about the joy of naked presenting in a next blog post!
More reading about visual thinking and slide design:
- The back or the napkin (by Dan Roam)
- Avoid the PowerPoint Trap by Having Less Wordy Slides (by Carmine Gallo)
- Visual Storytelling: New Language for the Information Age (by Maria Popova)
- Every slide tells a story (by Seth Godin)
- Kermit learns visual thinking (by Garr Reynolds)
- Why Visualization Matters for Speakers (by Nick Morgan)
- What you say and what you show (by me)
- Living by numbers (by me)
- To Prezi or not to Prezi (by me)
- De gustibus et coloribus (by me)
- Look ‘n’ feel matter – images (by me)
- Look ‘n’ feel matter – bulleted lists (by me)