The importance of visual storytelling

February 8, 2019

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Why do we present?

Millions of people wish we didn’t have to present because it can be extremely scary. But unfortunately, presentations are still the most effective way for us to Educate, Inspire, Sell, and have an Impact on a large group of people.

So, if you want to achieve any of those things listed above, you better get good at presenting!

Why do so many presentations fail?

It’s a sad fact but with so many millions of presentations being given every day, the vast majority of them are not successfully educating, inspiring, helping achieve new sales, or having any impact at all.

In our experience this is down to several reasons:

  1. Most people start at the end. They open up their presentation software and with zero planning they begin to build a presentation. BAD IDEA!
  2. Most people use very poor visuals or even worse no visuals at all in their presentation.
  3. And what is definitely lacking from a huge percentage of presentations is a good story.

Of course, even the best designed presentations can fail because the speaker hasn’t practiced or is so scared of public speaking, they become a quivering mess, but those topics are best left to another Webinar.

The overarching purpose of every presentation is to engage. Without engagement, you can’t achieve any of the items we listed above.

Why do visuals matter so much?

See if you can guess this movie:

  • A young man lives a boring life and feels unfulfilled
  • He meets an old wise man with a white beard
  • The man tells him he used to know his father
  • The old man offers to teach the young man
  • The young man becomes stronger and more confident
  • The old man tells the young man a horrible truth about his father
  • The young man goes on an incredible journey and becomes very powerful

Have you got it yet?

With no visuals at all most of you will be thinking its Starwars. The story we were actually referring to is actually Harry Potter! Your brain automatically tried to drop in its own visuals based on your past experiences of stories that have wise old men with white beards in them.

Image from

You read the lines of text, but your brain translated them into visuals and tried to link those with something familiar to you.

Another example to think about is this. Think back to the best presentation you’ve ever seen. Was it a TED talk? Was it a lecture form an old professor? Was it your CEO’s annual company address? Imagine that presentation now and really put yourself back in the audience.

Now let us ask you a simple question?

What was the best bullet point from that presentation?

It’s a ridiculous question right! Nobody is going to remember a bullet point even if it was delivered by the best public speaker you’ve ever seen on stage.

You’ll remember the presenter, what they said, and hopefully you’ll remember it even more because what they said was backed up with some great visuals.

How our brains translate visuals

A study was once done that shows people can understand the messaging from an image 60,000 times faster than if they had to read the same message in a paragraph of text.

It’s obvious when you think about it. We have road signs and symbols for this very reason.

Here’s something interesting though: To our brains there is no such thing as text and words.

Our brains see everything as visuals. Even when we read lines of text that is actually our brains looking at every single letter, studying its shape, comparing it to others in the same word, piecing thousands of tiny lines and curves together, and then we understand the word and sentence we have just read.

Of course, all that happens in a split second without any real effort on our part, but it’s that process that does take time. When you add up lots of text, paragraphs, pages, it can take us a long time to grasp something that is written.

But when we see a well-designed and well-placed image. BANG! We usually understand the message instantly.

When you’re presenting its important to think about your audience, but go beyond how old they are, how technical they are, and whether they are male or female, think about how their brains are working to engage with and understand your presentation content.

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