How many Power Point presentations have you endured hoping it was still socially acceptable to hurl rotten vegetables and fruit at the speaker?

The nature of my profession has parked me in the audience of countless presentations. Some, I have wondered how on earth the person ever got selected to do a public presentation. Others, I’ve submitted their names for TED Talks because they were so good.

The ones I’ve enjoyed- and remembered- the most were ones that creatively used images to accompany their words.  Communication is both verbal and visual and speakers who use that to their advantage will hold an audience’s attention. People are not only receiving messages from your words, they’re receiving messages from visual stimuli that surrounds both you and them.

For the sake of my illustration, lets compare speaking to singing. When you make a presentation and use images, you are no longer singing a solo; you’ve suddenly become a duet because that image has a voice as loud as your words, if not more. When you use an image, you are suddenly allowing a visual voice to join yours. The question is this: Is the image helping you or hurting you? Is it singing louder than you or is it fighting with you?

There are three basic ways to consider the relationship between the speaker and the image.

1.  The Image Singing the Same Note as the Speaker

This is the most popular – and boring- combination of words + images;  the speaker reading the screen. (This is the quickest way to bore the audience. Most are sitting there thinking, “If you’re just reading what’s on the screen, why don’t you save me time and email me the powerpoint?)

I’ll borrow the Definition of Branding concept by Tyler Norris to show you what I mean. Imagine the speaker using the following image on the screen then reading each word. Both voices are saying the same thing and you start losing people quickly because they read faster than you talk.

3 Keys of Branding

3 Keys of Branding


2.  The Image Singing in Harmony with the Speaker

I like a soloist, but I really like people who can nail sweet harmonies.  Imagine the speaker saying the same thing, but using the word + image equation this way:

Know-ability  Coca-Cola


Like-ability Disney-logo

Trust-ability mercedes-benz-logo


3.  The Image in Discord with the Speaker

I’ll use the same three words, but use images that would make a person grinch inside like listening to a note sung out of tune.


Hee Haw Moutain Dew

Like-ability  IRS logo




The beauty of this form of communication is that your targeting both right and left side of the brain.  I believe that you could take the more boring topic in the world (IRS tax laws) and if you put creative images with it, you could hold any audience’s attention.

No longer will you leave your audiences looking like this:Bored People

Instead, you’ll leave them looking like this:541095.TIF