Although you may have your audience’s time for the duration of your presentation, you don’t have equal amounts of their attention. The attention span of the average adult is about two minutes. That’s around the same amount of time it takes to read through just one of your slides. Multiply that by twenty or thirty and the likelihood that they’ve absorbed all that text becomes very slim. Most people don’t want to have to read thousands of words to get the information they need.
Including visualized content in your presentation – like infographics and images –makes the most of the limited time you actually have your audience’s attention. Visual content is stimulating and allows people to absorb much more information than completely text-based information. The brain processes visuals much faster than text – about 60,000 times faster. While text might give them more information overall, people are actually able to use a greater portion of the information when it’s visualized. That’s because 90 percent of the information sent to our brains is visual. Given that visual content can be more useful to audiences, the demand for it is high.
Take social media as an example. Millions of people use social media everyday, and they usually hop onto their accounts to quickly browse through their feed for new content. The majority of that content – around 63 percent – is made up of images. These images are easy to browse through and take in. Whether it’s because of social media (and the Internet in general) that people’s attention spans have waned, or just that these mediums cater to how the human brain naturally works, visual content has become more important than ever for presenters.
There are many different ways to visualize content. Here are some of the popular formats for content visualization and best practices for implementing them.
The marketing maxim “words tell and images sell” captures the relevance of infographics completely. Infographics are just what they sound like – graphics that give the audience information. While infographics contain text, it’s broken up into bite-sized, logical chunks that make it much easier to take in and analyze.
Infographics look best when they’re organized in a grid formation. Square off distinct segments of information into corresponding text and images that collage together nicely. Have a clear header for each segment, label every key point with text and define it with a stand-out graphic. The results will give your presentation a sophisticated and professional look.
Charts and Graphs
The numbers related to your topic tell their own story. Highlight the facts and figures that support your claims in tightly packaged charts and graphs. The key here is to not overload your audience with statistics. Rather, create visualized data that lays out only what they need to know about the numerical evidence in a simple yet elegant fashion.
Make your minimum font size 24 and choose a legible font. While the numbers themselves are the most crucial information on a chart or graph, if an audience can’t read the labels on the x-y axis, they’ll have no meaning. Select the type of chart or graph that makes the most compelling visualization of the data – for example, a pie chart to show percentages from survey results. Use the same color palette that represents your brand to trigger an association with your brand and topic.
Photographs and Images
A picture is worth a thousand words, and for marketers, can be worth millions. Crisp, clear photographs and images can say in one second what text couldn’t begin to cover in an entire page. Every presentation you give should include high-quality stock photos, internal company images and/or professionally shot and edited pictures from sources like Flickr and Instagram.
Choose your photos and images carefully and make sure they really add to your presentation. Don’t just include a picture so you can say you did. The images in your presentation should match the tone, voice and message of what you say to your audience. Size your images appropriately: if you want to use an image for emphasis, make it bigger; size down for images that are meant to complement text.
YouTube is the Internet’s greatest gift to presenters. Videos have the ability to give more information per minute than any other medium. Simply click the play button and your audience will be captivated. Playing a video embedded from sources like YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia provides a little breather for you and breaks up the presentation for your audience.
Videos used during a presentation should be no more than a minute as a general rule. Longer that that, and we come to the problem of attention spans again – it starts to draw their focus away from your presentation. The video should be one that your company made for marketing purposes or one you found online that demonstrates a key point. Check your video and sound quality before going live with it to ensure it can be clearly seen and heard. Easily share your videos on social media as a plug for your presentation and brand.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. For marketers and presenters, they’re the doors to conversion. Visual content has proven to be more effective at winning over new clients than information that’s spoken or written. This doesn’t mean that the latter two have no importance – but they’re much stronger when combined with imagery. It’s time to open your eyes to how visual content can boost the success of your next presentation.