Building an Image with PowerPoint

Building an image is essential to the success of business presentations. A strong, clear image can help you convey a message and sell a solution. Today, we will underpin the practical elements of PowerPoint discussed in recent weeks with an infallible theory on image building.

Images can be physically produced, delivered upfront and planted into your brain from your eyes immediately whole. Equally, images can be formed mentally. They can be guarded and delivered partially over time, as words (either heard by the ear or seen by the eye) are built and developed.


This is important for PowerPoint in terms of how you, as a presenter, choose to engage your audience. Upfront delivery does not suit always business presentations. If everything is on your slides, why would the audience bother to listen to you? The desire to deliver too much, too soon can make you redundant and irrelevant in your own show.

Here’s a brief extract from a novel – a description of one of the characters:

A white Ford Explorer with a blue star on the side panel was rounding the curve. We watched it pull to a stop behind one of the cruisers. A man got out, followed by a dog. The man was tall, maybe six-two, and broad-chested, like a boxer. He wore pressed khakis and aviator shades. The dog was brown and had retriever somewhere in its parentage. (…) The man strode towards us, carrying himself like someone who might speed-dial the governor.
— from ‘Break No Bones’ by Kathy Reichs (Published 2006. Quote from Chapter 9, p97-98)

This is a great character description because it requires reader input. Kathy Reichs has masterfully balanced the necessary detail required by the brain, with enough of a blank canvas so each reader must create his or her own Sheriff. Look back at the quote and balance what you actually know to be true from the piece with the picture currently in your head. There’s no mention of eye colour, approximate age or hair length and style. That was all up to you.

Keeping the brains in your audience active over time is the key. Develop your case in chunks that the audience can both accept and appreciate. Reveal your ‘chunked’ case using Custom Animation (see last week’s post). If there’s a section that you really need the audience to remember, repeat it.

Kathy Reichs didn’t describe the Sheriff; she gave readers the chance to create their own image, an image for them. If you apply this theory to the content of any presentation you might create and/or deliver, your audience will be more engaged and your message will be remembered.

Why not try it? Give your audience an active role in your next business presentation. Keep them engaged and make them think. They will thank you for it.

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