Once you have developed the structure of your presentation, you can begin working on the visual elements. The structural elements lay out a basic framework for your presentation (like the outlines in a coloring book). The visual elements add a lot of the ‘colour’.
Your presentation visuals are all about amplifying the main points of your presentation. This is true whether you use software like PowerPoint to produce slides or an actual product as your visual aide.
When using a software like PowerPoint the thing to remember is that the key is simplicity. With complex visuals your point can get lost in the clutter. Presenters often use their slides for both presentation visuals and handouts. The problem with this is that the slides take on features of a document, lots of words and content.
The human brain is incapable of processing multiple attention rich inputs simultaneously. That means that we cannot listen and read at the same time. Because of this characteristic, the audience gets out of sync with a presenter who has word rich slides. Read or listen, which to do? Author, and presentation expert Garr Reynolds calls presentation slides that are content and word heavy slideuments. Slides that are really documents.
Also , people can read faster than you speak. They get ahead of you and are waiting for you to “catch up”. This waiting gets tedious and boring and you lose connection with your audience. Losing connection reduces your effectiveness as a presenter.
To avoid the processing limitations of the human brain it is key to keep slides simple. One way to do this is to follow the 3 second rule. This rule comes from the billboard industry. They limit the amount of information on a billboard in relation to the speed of the passing traffic. Everything on a billboard should be read in 3 seconds or less – the approximate time it takes to drive by. Like billboards, presentation slides are glance media.
I learned the concept of glance media from Duarte Design. Duarte Design is one of the world’s premier presentation design companies. Company founder Nancy Duarte has written two landmark books on presentations.