How NOT to present with visuals

Keep it simple

If you have to give a presentation in English, you will likely spend a lot of time preparing your slides. However, there is a danger of relying too heavily on slides.

The audience is not there simply to read. If reading was the point, you could communicate the information through email. The audience is there to have you communicate the information to them. 

So, how should you use visuals? The director of Visual Communications for McKinsey & Company, Gene Zelazny, has a powerful way of using visuals. Here is a video of a presentation he gave at Wharton School. Just watch the first 10–15 seconds right now:

Turn off the projector to control attention

Did you notice that he turned off the visuals? And when he did that, your attention changed from the slide to him. And, suddenly, you were paying more attention to what he was saying. 

If there is a screen, people will look at it. However, there are parts of your presentation, especially when you are trying to make an important point, when the audience should be looking at you. 

It's okay to be nervous 

You might feel too nervous to turn off the visuals. 

All presenters get nervous. That's okay. Zelazny smartly says that being nervous is a sign of respect for your audience. If you didn't care, you wouldn't be nervous. But you do care, so your heart races and your hands shake. Believe it or not, that's totally normal. Just don't let your nerves make your choices for you.

Don't clutter your slides

Your audience is not there to read the slides; they are there to hear your message. 

You can prepare everything you want to say carefully, but don't put it all on the slides. It will make each one hard to read and people will ask, "What's the key takeaway here?" 

Put key language in the visuals, and use your communication skills to make it understandable. If you need time to prepare, put that time into preparing what you will say. 

If you'd like to practice your presentation skills, our teachers are always happy to help you take the next step towards a successful presentation.