“This presentation needs some work.” Whether you heard this from your boss, your colleagues, your new infographic design company, or yourself, you know it’s true. You rely on long blocks of text. You’ve included clip art and stock photos. You even use headers from several different presentations and cropped sections of dated infographics, making for an inconsistent design throughout. Like they said, it needs work.
Are you looking to create an engaging and memorable slide deck? Incorporate these 3 fundamental elements from infographic and visual communication design.
1. Illustrations to Bring Your Presentation to Life
Presentations, like infographics and all types of visual content, should rely more on visuals than text. Illustrations are a perfect choice for most presentations. That’s because they can quickly tell the story of a concept or scene. With the help of a relevant illustration, any brief text appearing on the slide is understandable at just a glance.
The below slide is from a presentation design for a telecommunications company, Mitel. The text explains that communication between people is difficult while moving around a job site. Bullet points go into some detail. Not many devices are made for this problem, landlines aren’t movable, and cell phones can lose signal on job sites.
The illustration explains the same thing much more quickly without words. The person in the foreground wonders how to communicate with machine operator, since the landline has no connection.
2. Diagrams Inspired by Infographics
Need to show how everything in a scene is connected? Have a process that can be illustrated through a flow chart or decision tree? Infographics or presentation designs for any company or subject can include diagrams to simplify multifaceted concepts.
We know that blocks of text aren’t conducive to slide decks. There are 2 reasons for this. In an oral presentation, your audience will be reading the slide instead of listening to you. And in an individual setting, people would still rather see visuals than read text. Diagrams can distill complex insights into a single image. Because of this, they’re an excellent tool for your presentation toolkit.
The below slide shows how transportation technology company Cummins reaches diverse markets. They visualized a scene in which many different industries and settings are represented. It shows commercial trucks, school buses, cranes and more. With this image, the company communicates its breadth of expertise using only a few words.
And how does the slide avoid clutter in a scene with so many elements? Branded red highlights for each segment.
Learn more about this slide deck and visual campaign.
Your diagram may be illustrative or more process-driven. In whatever form it takes, an infographic-inspired diagram should rid your presentation of lengthy explanations.
3. Data Visualization to Simplify Statistics
We’ve all read a spreadsheet. So, you already know why data visualization is important. In a spreadsheet, you sift through cell after cell, column after column. Your eyes glaze over.
There may be bolding or even color-coding to draw your eye to the key numbers. And if your job is rooted in spreadsheets, you may have learned to love what they’re capable of. But if you could simplify these numbers so that even a subject-matter newcomer could understand — meaning a seasoned expert could see it even faster — wouldn’t you?
That’s where data visualization comes in.
The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) was preparing to host their annual meeting. They needed a variety of visual content solutions. These ranged from presentation design to infographic brochures, invitations, and more. For their slide deck in particular, it was important to showcase the DSA’s key achievements over the past year. They had a wealth of numerical data at their fingertips, and needed a clear way to display it. They employed data visualization to help tell their story. Here’s a slide from that presentation:
It’s easy to see how powerful this data visualization is. The fact that 2015 saw a boom in net new jobs is immediately clear. So are other trends. The gradual year-over-year rise in net units is another example — it would take a lot of text to explain. Instead, we can understand in just a few seconds with the help of this bar graph.
The Bottom Line: Visuals Work
Your presentation may not use all 3 of these techniques. That’s because they may not all work for the story you’re trying to tell. But if you aren’t using at least 1 of them, chances are your slide deck isn’t as effective as it needs to be.
Even if you’ve culled your copy down to “brass tacks,” without visual support, your attendees may not be engaged. They probably won’t remember much, either. Why? Text paired with imagery has been shown to improve comprehension by 89%.
In short, when dreaming up your next presentation, think like an infographic design company. How can you say the most, with the fewest words?