After reviewing thousands of PowerPoint slides, I have concluded that there are four stages that presenters move through as they learn how to use visuals more effectively.  First, there is the "PowerPoint as teleprompter" stage where the presenter writes what they want to say on each slide and reads it to the audience.  Then there is the "PowerPoint as speaker notes" bullet point slides where the bullet points are really there to remind the presenter what to say.  When a presenter discovers visuals, they usually move into the stage where the slides are crammed with incomprehensible graphics that do nothing except confuse the audience, I call this "PowerPoint as visual noise".

My desire is that presenters move to the fourth stage, "Using Persuasive Visuals".  A persuasive visual has a headline summarizing the key message of that slide, a meaningful graphic that illustrates the point, and a callout that directs attention to the most important part of the graphic.  Today’s lesson outlines my five-step KWICK method for creating persuasive visuals.

K - Key Point
For each slide, you need to determine what the single key idea is that you want the audience to remember.  Then, write a headline that summarizes that key message.  It will be a full sentence, but it makes the slide more effective than a two or three word topic title that gives the audience no idea of what your point is.

W - Words That Suggest a Visual
You don’t need to be a graphic artist to decide what the best visual is for each point you want to make.  You just need to use the clues in your slide headline, the words on your slide and the words you say to determine which visual is the best for this point.

I - In Context
If the visual is not familiar to the audience, it won’t mean much to them.  Create the visual so it is easy to understand and has context for the audience.  Explain visuals such as graphs, diagrams, timelines, videos and maps to “show and tell” instead of just “tell”.

C - Crystal Clear
Use a callout instead of a laser pointer to make the point of the visual to the audience in the room, across the world via web presentations and to those who will receive the presentation by e-mail later.

K - Keep Focus
Build each element on the slide so that you discuss one topic at a time.  If the entire slide comes up at the start, the audience doesn’t know which part you are talking about and may miss the point you are trying to make.

When I show people the KWICK method in the workshops that I deliver, the most common comment I get is that people will never be able to look at the slides in the same way again.  If you’d like more details on the KWICK method, check out today’s resource.

To learn more, I recommend these resources

The KWICK method is fully explained in my book “The Visual Slide Revolution”, which was selected as one of the Top 10 Business Books of 2008 by Canada’s leading national newspaper, The Globe and Mail.  You can read a free chapter and order either the e-book or printed book on my web site at www.VisualSlideRevolution.com.