By Michelle Labor and Taylor Duffy


The 4th SimV Academy in the “Presentation Skills” series was given by Michelle Labor on Presentation Packaging. Just like the when we receive gifts, the audience brings pre-determined anticipations, expectations, attitudes, and emotions based on what the presentation topic is, who the presenter is, and what has happened around them that day. So how can a presenter break through those distractions and present a meaningful, impactful, visually appealing presentation? By wrapping up your audience analysis, non-verbal communication, content, visuals, and passion into a consistent, focused package for your audience to use when they walk out of the door.

Why should we use visuals in presentations? Visuals are interpreted by the brain in less than one-tenth of a second. They can quickly connect content with emotion to provide a lasting visual cue to remember main ideas. Use exciting visuals, whether they be slides, pictures, graphs, videos, or demonstrations, to engage participants, taking them from remembering ideas to creating new ones. Good visuals evoke emotion, activate thinking, and engage attention.

What should a visual do? As the presenter, you are the subject matter expert. Visuals should complement your message, not replace you as the presenter. If you read visuals to participants, they will wonder why they needed to set aside time to be present; and they won’t show up next time. Don’t let the visuals drive your message, but rather, use ones that clarify, complement, highlight, emphasize, and summarize your message, thus helping your audience commit it to memory.

How can visuals impact your audience? After jotting down everything you want to present, go back through and weed out the concepts that do not clarify the big picture. Choose wisely what should be shared and what can be saved for another presentation. Keep visuals clean and concise, using key words rather than phrases or sentences on slides and visuals. Be consistent with your font, theme, and colors to eliminate distractions from your message. You want everything to be cohesive and smooth, so the audience focuses on the content and not on inconsistencies. Visuals should focus attention on memorable points to provide a lasting impact.

The Why, What, and How all come together in a perfect package to engage, connect, and impact your audience. Your knowledge, preparation, and passion will communicate louder when visual material clarifies and enhances your content.