Issue #150 January 8, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Identifying Possible Visuals

This is a milestone issue for the newsletter as it is the 150th issue. And I’ll take this occasion to announce that my next book is scheduled to be ready mid to late February and will be available in both e-book and printed formats. The topic is how to create persuasive visuals. More on the book in future newsletters, but today’s tip is one of the topics I discuss in more detail in the book. One of the biggest obstacles I hear to creating visuals instead of text on PowerPoint slides is that people don’t know what visual to create for the point they are making. They think that you need a degree in graphics or need to be a really creative person to come up with the appropriate graphic for different situations. I disagree. I suggest you listen carefully to the language you use to describe the point that you are making. The words or phrases you use will give you all the clues you need. No degree required. Anyone can do it. Let’s look at some examples. Example #1: The product features slide “The ABC widget can be used in 14 different applications, while competing widgets can only be used in 5 or 6 situations.” The key word to listen for is “while”. This indicates comparison and suggests that a visual such as a diagram of photos showing the number and type of applications would show both numeric advantage and scope advantage. Example #2: The financial update slide Typically, these slides include imported Excel tables of numbers and the presenter talks about how the current results indicate a potential trend in the marketplace or in operations. The key word here is “trend”. The numbers may show a trend to the trained person, but most executives would prefer to see a graph that shows the direction and magnitude of the trend so they can decide whether it is important or not. By listening for the words or phrases that explain the point we are making, a visual will become clear almost every time. When you are struggling to find the right visual in your next presentation, go back to how the point is explained. The words and phrases will usually provide all the clues you need. In the upcoming book, I will include an extensive list of key words and phrases to look for and what type of visual they suggest. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be sharing more of the current thinking that is going in to the book and will let you know when it is ready. My workshops are now including all of this new material, so now is a great time to contact me and book the session that will help your staff create persuasive visuals. E-mail me at or call me at 905-510-4911. I could not have written 150 issues without the support of you, my subscribers, so Thank You for your questions, comments and for recommending the newsletter to others. I look forward to serving you for many more information packed issues to come.