3 Ways to Use Images in Your Presentation, Inspired by Daniel Coyle, Marjory Abrams & Garr Reynolds

by Gilda Bonanno LLC www.gildabonanno.com

Images can be a powerful means of communication - hence the old adage, "a picture is worth a thousand words."

According to  Daniel Coyle, the New York Times best-selling author of The Talent Code and of the informative new book, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, research shows that "your brain is evolved to register images more vividly and memorably than abstract ideas."

In his Tip #21 - Think in Images, he gives an example of a musician being asked to "touch the strings as if they were burning hot" rather than "touch the strings as lightly as possible." The clarity of the image will help the musician understand and perform the desired action. 

Using images applies not only to the way that I coach people in presentation skills, but also to the presentations themselves. 

Here are 3 ways for you to  use images in your presentation:

1. Use Images in Your Stories
A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Marjory Abrams, President of Boardroom, Inc., publisher of popular newsletters such as Bottom Line/Personal, Bottom Line/Health and Bottom Line/Wealth (www.bottomlinesecrets.com)

She shared an interesting lesson - a word learned from her father, Boardroom's founder, Marty Edelston: "obbligato." It's a musical term referring to musical lines, which in Margie's words, "dance around the main melody and enhance it."  As part of her lifelong career in publishing, Margie uses "obbligato" to describe the power of images in stories.

And a relevant, focused and well-practiced story can be a key component of your presentation.  It should include vivid, specific details that paint the picture for the audience.  For example, if you're telling a story about an employee problem, saying, "he came into work 2 hours late, with bloodshot eyes and slurring his words," is more effective and memorable than saying, "he came in drunk." The details help the audience visualize the image and the story in their minds and will help them remember it.
2.  Engage Your 5 Senses to Create the Image
Use your five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste - to craft the details. For example, if you're sharing a story about your six-year-old son's soccer game as an example of how even inexperienced people can overcome obstacles, describe the smell of the wood fire in the air during an autumn soccer game, the sound of the leaves crunching under your feet or the taste of the mint chocolate chip ice cream at the postgame celebration party. Choose whichever senses help paint the picture most clearly.

3.  Use Images on Your Slides
If you must use PowerPoint, create visually compelling slides that include high-quality images that help the audience visualize, understand and remember your message.  You can use photos that you've taken yourself or you can find them online – I like www.istockphoto.com.  The images will be much more effective at communicating your ideas than slides with too many lines of bullet-pointed text crammed onto them. Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds, is a wonderful resource for how to create beautiful slides that use images to deliver a powerful message.

So the next time you have to deliver a presentation, think of your message in images, and then use those images to communicate to your audience so they will understand and remember what you've said.

For more on Daniel Coyle, including The Little Book of Talent and his blog, visit his website http://thetalentcode.com/

For blog posts by Marjory Abrams, visit http://margiesblog.bottomlinesecrets.com/

For Presentation Zen resources by Garr Reynolds, visit http://www.presentationzen.com/

Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com