Why Presentation Graphics Matter
We sent out a rare email blast yesterday extolling the virtues of great presentation graphics. Sure, we did it to try and drum up business, but it wasn’t entirely self-serving. We truly believe that our clients who invest in professional PowerPoint artwork and diagrams end up delivering better presentations and are more successful as a result.
The truth is that most presentations — whether sales pitches or convention keynotes — are boring. The presenter may have chosen a sharp-looking template from the PowerPoint library, but most of the slides are long lists of bullet points, broken up by the occasional stock photo, clip art doodle, or line drawing. These rudimentary graphics can serve to break up the monotonous text-only slides, but they generally offer little else.
A truly engaging presentation will use graphics to articulate the speaker’s ideas, provoke thought and inquiry in the audience, and bring understanding to viewers who cannot grasp your concepts through words alone. If those graphics are professional and artistic, they will also cast your corporate image in a stronger light, priming your audience to trust your vision and believe your pitch.
We believe that presentation graphics should achieve three goals:
- They should explain rather than simply illustrate: The best graphics tell a story, for which the presenter is the narrator. Layered graphics that animate and grow as the presenter speaks can make complex concepts appear simple and understandable. A screenshot of your product next to a list of bulleted features can’t compete with that.
- They should enhance your brand, not limit it: A stock photo rarely does anything for your brand. A stylistic diagram that uses your corporate palette can reinforce your brand’s best qualities while elucidating a difficult idea. The higher the graphical polish, the more your audience will associate quality with your company.
- They should promote order, not chaos: Most presentations that we receive for updating, contain a random mix of photography, clip art, line drawings and “smart art” scattered throughout the presentation as though the author thought each and every slide could be improved by some graphic. I think graphics should be used only where logical and they should all be of a consistent style and palette. A few well-designed and well-placed graphics can achieve much more than a multitude of bad clip art and photos.
Ultimately, the best presentations tell a story and engage the audience through clear, concise text and powerful, relevant graphics. Plenty of presentation authors are good at the text part, but neglect the graphics. We think success depends on both.
Our portfolio contains several examples of the types of graphics we think work well, and we have created a short video of a presentation, using graphics and text to explain our process. We also sell hand-drawn, professional PowerPoint artwork via PointClips.com. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.