With the world’s shrinking attention span, you can increase the odds of getting folks to listen and act when you use visuals the right way. Here are some recommendations that I’ve found helpful:
Less is more. An old guideline which I believe remains somewhat valid is to include no more than six words on a line on your visual. Fewer words, carefully chosen, will position you even stronger. Why? You don’t want people to be reading the slide instead of listening to you.
Limit the number of lines of text. Ideally, display two or three, maximum. The same rationale as the previous recommendation applies. Remember, the slides exist to complement your spoken words, not replace you. Too much text and as the speaker, you may find yourself reading it aloud instead of maintaining your conversational tone with the audience. No one appreciates a speaker who reads their presentation from the screen instead of delivering it in a straight-forward, engaging manner.
Use large type for headlines and sub-points that is simple to read. An absolute minimum of 24 point and ideally larger, 30 point or more, works best. Avoid fancy typefaces that don’t project well. I find traditional fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and Tahoma best-suited for text. You can be more adventurous with headlines but be sure and do a trial way before your presentation to assure readability.
Keep headline colors and type fonts consistent. Try to resist the creative urge to make every slide look different by changing the color or type fonts. Too much variety and your audience doesn’t know where to look first and their attention will be diverted from your key messages.
More images, less text. Do pack a positive punch by selecting powerful, relevant images that help you make your points. You can choose photographs, pertinent illustrations, and even videos. It’s okay to have just one or two key words on a slide accompanied by an attention-grabbing image.
Don’t settle for mediocre. Just as you have worked hard to hone your message itself, give yourself time to locate and insert the right images to make your points pop.
Don’t be afraid to ask others. Reach out to people who have presentations, websites, or publications you admire and ask where they’ve found their visuals. Be on the alert for photos and videos of relevant you can create yourself, also.
Have fun making your presentations pop with wonderful visuals!
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