Some simple thoughts on using visuals for presentations that are obvious in hindsight... Some of these are about poster, some about LCDs and some about overhead projector and transparencies.

Get the audience actively involved quickly. Make the content appear relevant and generate buy-in. Make it their program and not yours! Demonstrate your interest in them by immediately getting them participating.

Use Visuals that have Impact. Keep the concept understandable and clear and do not go overboard and make the visuals distracting. Many people report they are Powerpointed to death these days -- simple is engaging. Keep them occupied visually, auditorially and kinesthetically!

Simple is better than cluttered. Repeated borders and multicolored company logos on every single slide can be annoying, especially if they do not add to content. Keep ideas to only a few on each page. And consider the Thiagi Test: If you put it on the floor at your feet, can you read it? If not, recreate!

Don't physically touch the projector screen. This often moves it and when you let go, it moves back. You also get in the way of the image most of the time. If you are using an overhead, use a pencil or pen or even one of the specially crafted "pointing hands" or similar. Use a laser pencil, which have become amazingly cheap, to highlight computer projected images. But also be careful not to shine that baby in someone's eyes since it can do major damage. Some pointer or stick also works fine.

Stay away from the screen unless you are doing shadow images intentionally. I generally sit when I am doing a series of visuals to prevent myself from being the focus of attraction or to simply get out of the way. Watch the sightlines. Shadows on the screen (or elbows stuck in the output of the overhead mirror) are very distracting for most people.

You can make your own pointer from cardboard or plastic with a pair of scissors or you can create an opaque pointer printing with ink on a transparency film.

If you are using visuals as the main part of the presentation, as I do quite often, make THEM the main part of the presentation and get yourself out of the way.

Use a simple laser pointer but do not get carried away.

Turn the LCD projector "off" when you are not referring to a visual - there are a variety of ways to do that, ranging from pressing B on the keyboard to using a USB Remote that has a blanking function. I will often simply put a piece of paper in front of the lens if I have it on a table.

Colors - I use green backgrounds for "go," blue for "credibility," yellow for "caution" and red for "danger." I do this when it makes sense to use simple background colors. Most of my visuals tend to be more simple and clean, which I also think helps.

Use round tables - and sit no more than 6 people per table to maximize participation and involvement. Fewer is okay, but one person is more likely to dominate conversation in smaller groups. Bigger groups become committees and people will not get involved, opting out in many cases.

Tilt the screen forward at the top to minimize keystoning of the image. Most screens are made that way now but most people do not seem to know what that funny thing is on the top -- it is an extension. Nine times in ten, even the professional AV people do not set the screens up right! Although some LCD projectors will do this to a degree, tilting the screen can make your images completely square, which looks most professional.

Don't leave the screen the same for extended periods or leave a slide up too long - you should blank it or cover the lens or otherwise turn it off when you are done with that theme or image and will not be transitioning into a new one for a period of time. Do this especially when you are in a general question and answer period. I have seen people leave their marketing information up on screen for 15 minutes or more, which actually seems to get annoying and intrusive...

If you are talking or answering questions, blank the screen!

go to Some thoughts on Virtual Teams

go to Some thoughts on Effective Meetings

go to Some thoughts on Powerpoint Presentations

back to Managers as Facilitators of Improvement

back to Articles and Whole Bunch of Other Stuff