Conveying the Message with Visuals – Speakeasy’s Visual Guidelines

Woman Giving a Presentation with Visuals

In today’s business landscape incorporating visuals into presentations is often necessary to clearly convey messages for diverse and international audiences. Effective communicators are not only able to use their words and body language to paint a vivid picture, but they have mastered how and when to use visuals to aid in audience retention. With over 65% of people identifying themselves as a visual learner, visual aids are crucial in talks and presentations to reach and engage these learners. In fact, the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than written or spoken words.[1] Evaluating the specifics of the particular communication situation will help you decide if the use of visuals is appropriate in helping your listener understand and remember your message.

The business communication specialists at Speakeasy have compiled five key considerations to keep in mind when crafting your visuals and using them during your next talk.

  • Do the logistics of the communication environment allow you to use visual support effectively?

Are you speaking in a large auditorium, a small conference room, or a coffee shop? Take time to also consider how long it will take to make your visual, the time needed to fully present it, and the amount of space/resources you will need to make sure your visual is used effectively. If you are presenting to a large group versus a small group, the size of the visual would likely be affected.

  • Will the use of visuals enhance or detract from my ability to engage with the audience?

Keep in mind that visuals always shift your listeners’ focus away from you, as the speaker, to the information on the visual. If this transition can be made smoothly without losing your connection, then consider using a visual. Your visuals play a role in your communication and should help to move your audience closer to your message or call to action by creating excitement, highlight a message, overcome language barriers, or clarify complex information.

  • When and how will you incorporate the visual?

Visuals should be introduced within the natural flow of your talk. Generally they can be presented as you are explaining a concept, or immediately after as an effective way to summarize key points. If your visual is a video or demonstration, be sure to practice introducing the visual and creating an effective transition back to your talk, to draw your audience back into your message.

  • What should my visual look like?

Visuals can be charts, diagrams, photographs, drawings, videos, or demonstrations. An effective visual should have a well developed headline that expresses your point of view about the information presented. Make sure your headline is brief, focused on a single point, and tailored specifically for your audience. If you are presenting a complex process, or a series of topics, consider using multiple visuals instead of one large visual. Breaking visuals down into more digestible chunks can make a complex processes simpler for the audience to understand and follow.

  • How should I organize the visual?

Keep in mind that your listeners will be looking at your visual from top to bottom and left to right. Within those standards, you can control the visibility of the various elements in the visual by using contrasting colors, borders, or backgrounds. The more an element contrasts with its surroundings, the higher its visibility and the higher level it occupies within the visual hierarchy. You can manipulate the brightness, size, and colors of the elements within the visuals to convey importance. If your audience cannot see or easily read your visual, it will lose its effectiveness. As a general rule, business communication experts recommend using one inch cap height, which is readable up to 50 feet. You may need to adjust this font size up or down, with changes in contrast, when presenting in a large room. Also, consider that clarity is affected by viewing distances, light level, and equipment quality.

The ability to be an effective communicator is a power that resides within all of us. If you are ready to take the first step and enhance your communication skills, enroll today in one of our proven communication skills trainings. Click here to learn more about what communication program may be the best fit for your communication needs and goals.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-ivanovs/the-effect-of-visuals-in_b_8477190.html