‘Here are my slides, can you just pretty them up for me?’

When was the last time you said this to someone on your team? Go on, be honest now.

You’re not alone if you think that pulling together a presentation involves a bunch of bullet points, thrown together in slides with your logo on and stacks of data to back it up. (That’s why we have death by PowerPoint.)

Effective design involves so much more than making your slides ‘look pretty’.

Design carries a professional impression, supports the delivery of your message and makes it easier for your audience to understand your main points. Strong design will support and instil confidence in your audience, proving that you are knowledgeable and credible.

But only if you get it right.

Your slides shouldn’t be a visual distraction with lots of confusing content or animations. They are to help your audience comprehend your message, so your goal is to engage them and provide clarity.
This is where the right visuals can help.

Make it memorable

Vision is our primary sense (making up 70% of our sensory receptors), which is why visual elements are so powerful. In fact, 90% of what the brain processes is visual information.

For example, if I ask you to imagine a beer, then it is likely you will visualise a glass full of amber liquid with bubbles frothing at the top. Or maybe a brown or green bottle with a label of your favourite brew. I am yet to meet someone who visualises the letters B.E.E.R.

This is why you need to use the right diagrams and imagery that emphasise or explain your points in a presentation.

Photography, icons or illustrations help simplify and communicate information clearly – and quickly. People will remember these images much longer than they will remember your bullet points.
You can use a visual diagram to explain a process, or an infographic to help break down and display complex information. Images, photos, and even video, can help create an emotional connection with the people you are presenting to. (It’s always a good idea to use real pictures of your team in your presentation, if appropriate.)

Visualise your future

This kind of visual thinking is crucial to simplify the complexity that businesses grapple with every day. It’s also crucial to cut through the noise and grab your audience’s limited 140-character attention.

It requires a very different approach to just making something ‘look good’. It requires thought, attention, and even a strategy.

Investing in good visuals like this is investing in your future profits – it may cost a bit upfront, especially in terms of time, but down the track, your investment will return tenfold.

Try it and see.