Powerful PowerPoint – Part Two: Visuals

We're now in the middle of this three-part series on getting the most out of PowerPoint using Content, Visuals, and Media, so let's press on.  What first comes to mind when you see the word, "Visuals"?  (I thought of photos.)  Though pictures are in the visuals category, they don't make up its entirety.

Since I brought them up, it would be good to mention that pictures do speak volumes and can be a welcome addition to any PowerPoint slide… if done correctly.  Pictures are like content; they must be surgically chosen.  And where the right picture can do wonders for communicating to your participants, the wrong picture can distract them, or even lower their opinion of you and your message.

You can't go wrong if you put one picture per slide, taking up all the space—captions don't have to always go underneath; place the words where they'll make the most impact.  Pictures of people are good, but crop tight from the chest up for individuals, and show some background and scenery for group shots.  Double-check to make sure the right person is showing at the right part of the presentation.  Product shots are good, and buildings too if appropriate.

If ever in doubt, not using the picture you're waffling over is probably the better choice.

But pictures aren't all there is to visuals.  The slides themselves can make or break a bid for participant attention.  Go through the first ten slides or so of this eye-popping PowerPoint presentation.

Pretty cool, eh?  You'll have noticed that they used color to manipulate mood, and sizes of slide elements to call attention to information.  I really like how they used reoccurring graphics as a sort of bullet-point system.  Nothing is worse than seeing the same layout and font, slide after slide, with nothing changing but the information.  (It puts me in mind of white stripes in the middle of the road at night: hypnotizing.) The one critical mistake on this powerpoint is the size of the text. 

But when people see a familiar graphic from a few slides before, they are eager to spot the differences, and quickly learn that these particular slides will be their guideposts for the rest of the presentation.

What visuals are you using to spice up your PowerPoint slides?  How do you like the series so far? 

Next up: Media