Present Ideas With Pictures
How many times have you found yourself drifting off in the middle of a presentation? It could be a networking meeting, staff meeting or worst of all during a sales presentation. If it happens to you, you can be pretty sure it also happens to your audience. If you lose the interest of your prospects in a sales meeting you might as well go home now.So what can you do to keep people focused? Present with pictures!
There is an old joke about how the English speak foreign languages: they just shout loudly in English. You could try that in your presentations to keep people awake, but I doubt you will have a favourable reaction. One thing I do frequently during consulting and coaching meetings is have a flip chart handy to draw little diagrams and pictures to help explain what I mean, without using too many words.
Why present with pictures? Nearly 70% of our brain’s sensory processing capacity is taken up by vision. As hunter and hunted our brains have evolved to process images at an amazing rate. So using images and pictures engages more of your audience’s brain and that stops them drifting away and catching up on much-needed sleep.
“Pictures are not training wheels but the front wheel on the bicycle of communication”.
When we were kids we start with picture books with very few words, progressing to more words and fewer pictures until finally no pictures at all. Hurray! We’ve just eliminated the most powerful processing element for comprehension. A recent study showed that graphic novels actually help accelerate reading skills in preteens rather than holding them back.
Don’t be put off by a lack of artistic ability. Even if your drawing skills haven’t advanced much since kindergarten using simple images to convey complex ideas can make it much easier for your audience to comprehend and retain detail quickly. If you are not sure how to get started here is an idea: Pictionary! Play Pictionary at your next staff meeting. Cover 2 or 3 of the agenda points with a round of Pictionary. It’s fun, will engage everyone and will start to build confidence in the process and your drawing ability.
Here is a quick cheat sheet for where you can introduce hand drawn pictures. (If you don’t want to read this next bit, just look at the picture instead.)
Present Ideas With Pictures
- Who/what: use a portrait, doesn’t have to be fancy; smiley face 🙂 or an unhappy face 🙁 when talking about staff or customers, tells you all you need to know.
- Where: use a map, either a physical one showing geographic location or plots on a chart to show relative position.
- How much: use a simple chart like a bar chart or pie chart;
- When: timelines for history or sequence of events; first comes A, then came B, then C;
- How: use a flowchart to show how things work or flow and finally
- Why: use a multivariable plot. This is the most difficult type of image but, when well thought out, it can very quickly convey complex situations clearly.
So why do we insist on using words rather than relevant pictures in presentations. Words make you smart, words can create soft focus and at worst words mislead.
The next time you are doing a presentation, it could be a staff meeting or even sales meeting try introducing pictures to explain and sell ideas.
If you want to find out more check out ‘Back of a Napkin’ by Dan Roam which we reviewed here.