Remote presentations mean visuals matter even more.


Remote presentations are here to stay. The fact that this is an option is good news for business. Crucial to making a remote presentation successful is having visuals that do their job. (Unlike presenting in person where you may be able to get away without having your visuals do their job. You may be charismatic enough that the audience ignores your crummy slides (and the bullets upon bullets) and focuses on you.)

In a typical remote presentation, all of the content is written on the slides. The audience reads each slide and then goes on to doing something else. (Or downloads the deck and forgets about it.) No need to even listen to the presenter, who is either unseen, or on view in a tiny box – most often looking like a serial killer in his/her basement. The presenter is redundant, unnecessary, superfluous. Why? Because the visuals are not doing their job.

So what is the visual’s job? Job One is to compel the audience to pay attention. Job Two is to act as a synergistic component for the presenter – to enhance the audience’s understanding of the message. Job Three, to help the audience remember the message.  The presenter need only explain (in easy-for-the-audience-to-understand language) what the visual is showing.

In a successful remote presentation the slides are visual representations of the message, and incomplete at that. The presenter is a critical component of this set up; he or she must explain to the audience what it is they are seeing. Thus from the beginning the presenter has the audience’s attention. They cannot understand what they are looking at without the presenter to explain it. Job One accomplished.

Because the visuals also animate, things appear in sequence, things may move to indicate increase or decline, things may disappear, the audience is compelled to pay attention, to both the screen and the presenter. The two are synergistic; one informs the other, adds more to the audience’s understanding than either could alone. Job Two accomplished.

And finally, because we are using images; charts, graphs and iconography instead of written words, we are helping our audience retain our message. Research tells us that when we couple our spoken narrative with images we can double audience retention. What’s not to love about that?

In the days ahead, as you find yourself presenting remotely, be sure to make your visuals do their job. Create slides that compel your audience to pay attention. Make them a synergistic component; your visuals plus you should equal more than either of you could on your own. Lastly, remember that images (charts, graphs, photos, iconography) plus your narrative will double your audience’s retention. You’ll be giving remote presentations that will be heard, understood and remembered!

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