Visual Dos and Don’ts for Powerful and Effective Presentations

Visual Dos and Don’ts for Powerful and Effective Presentations

Whether you’re designing a PowerPoint presentation for a business meeting or creating a class project, here are some tips to keep your audience engaged.

Creating a dynamic presentation is an excellent way to engage with your audience and clearly communicate your message. However, distracting visuals or a lack of diverse media can detract from your overall message. Whether you’re designing a PowerPoint presentation for a business meeting or class project, here are some key PowerPoint dos and don’ts for using visuals.

Do: Create a Clear Structure

Business Meeting Present clear, easy to read graphics. Image via fourSage.

A clear structure allows your audience to understand the key points of your message. From humorous graphics to detailed data, create a presentation that is clear, consistent, and easy to read. Simple text, a clear narrative, and an engaging introduction and conclusion help your audience to remember the essentials of your presentation.

Consider the ideal length of your presentation. If you find yourself speaking too much for a single slide, consider how an image, video, or graph could convey your idea faster than speaking about it. Visuals, when used properly, not only add another layer of interest, but also provide a clearer form of communication for complex ideas.

Do: Understand Your Audience

Before you focus on the visual techniques of effective presentation, you need to understand your audience. A graph that highlights your company’s finances can include many details, but other presentations don’t need as much detailed information. Keep your audience focused by knowing the ideal time limit of your presentation, understanding the kinds of visuals that’ll add to the tone of your message, and staying on task with a variety of slides. A humorous image may be appropriate if it describes a main point, but may not be appropriate if it takes your audience down a rabbit trail.

Do: Choose a Variety of Media

Business Team Keep the audience engaged by mixing your media. Image via fourSage.

There’s nothing worse than a PowerPoint presentation lacking in images. Regardless of your audience, you need to use visuals to add interest and another layer of information to your presentation. By choosing the right images, you can save yourself time, convey more detailed information, and connect with your audience.

Your presentation doesn’t have to use only images and text. There are many kinds of media you can use in PowerPoint and other presentation software. A multimedia approach can include the following dynamic content:


Choosing the right video is important in keeping your audience engaged, rather than distracted. Consider the mood of your presentation, the expectations of your audience, and the information you’re intending to convey. A video of your CEO describing your brand goals may not be any more effective than describing those goals yourself. However, a short clip of students stating why they love your new educational programming can be a powerful addition to your presentation.

Vectors can add a level of professionalism, drawing the eye to important information, like contact information. Music, when used in moderation, can add an engaging background for your presentation.

Remember to use the right formats for all your media, ensuring it’s compatible with your presentation software. Typically, PowerPoint accepts MP3, AIFF, WAV, and other common audio options.

If you’re planning on using any audio in your presentation, make sure the presentation location has adequate technical support. Check volume levels and adjust them before you begin your presentation. Otherwise, your presentation may be either uncomfortably loud or too quiet to hear.

Don’t: Add Large Blocks of Text

Multiple paragraphs of text on a single slide can be intimidating. Without presentation visuals, a PowerPoint presentation can quickly become dull, monotonous, and hard to understand. Keep your message clear and your audience on task with short phrases and single sentences. An image can summarize an entire paragraph easily, keeping the focus on the presenter.

Adding presentation visuals not only allows you to reduce the number of text blocks, it can also help connect one point to the next. Use a common color scheme or image category to connect ideas.

Don’t: Start Without a Clear Structure

Vector Illustrations Make sure your presentation is structured from one idea to the next. Image via fourSage.

While powerful visuals can create interest and help guide your audience, a series of images and videos without structure can be confusing and distracting. Even the best media needs to be carefully structured for an orderly progression from one idea to the next.

Don’t just focus on the informational structure, think about the mood and media structure, as well. If you have a powerful, heart-breaking documentary clip, ease into it with some images or music. Afterward, you’ll need a careful transition to prepare your audience for upbeat images or brightly colored vectors.

Don’t: Use Unclear Images

Finally, adding a pixelated, blurry, or vague image can distract from your purpose, communicating an unprofessional presentation. When selecting images for presentation slides, choose clear, relevant, high-resolution images for best results.

For a wide selection of leading royalty-free images, visit Shutterstock and browse our library today. Pick the images, illustrations, and vectors that help you connect with your audience, increase interest, and clearly communicate relevant information.

For more presentation tips and advice, check out these articles:

PowerPoint Background Images to Wake Up Your PresentationsHow to Add Video to Your PowerPoint Slides for More Engaging Presentations9 Tips for Making Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations

Cover image via fourSage.

The post Visual Dos and Don’ts for Powerful and Effective Presentations appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.

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