Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't Forget Your Pants—Know Your Audience

We're running a blog series by guest blogger, Megan Skuller, a graphic designer at 24 Hour Company, specializing in proposal and presentation design. Below is the second in a series of four blogs by Megan about how to improve your oral proposals and presentations. Using real-world examples, Megan shares her top three rules when building visuals for your next project. This blog highlights her first rule.

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Visual aids done well engage the audience and help them understand your points faster and remember them longer. Courtesy of the Department of Labor website, http://www.osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/traintec.html, to the right is a bar chart showing the level of information retention when using visual aids. The bar chart clearly shows that adding a visual component increases the audience’s retention exponentially over oral alone. Furthermore, the Department of Labor offers fascinating statistics about the impact of visuals on an individual:
  • In many studies, experimental psychologists and educators have found that retention of information three days after a meeting or other event is six times greater when information is presented by visual and oral means than when the information is presented by the spoken word alone.
  • Studies by educational researchers suggest that approximately 83% of human learning occurs visually, and the remaining 17% through the other senses—11% through hearing, 3.5% through smell, 1% through taste, and 1.5% through touch.
  • The studies suggest that three days after an event, people retain 10% of what they heard from an oral presentation, 35% from a visual presentation, and 65% from a visual and oral presentation.
What does this all boil down to? Your visuals play a vital role in your presentation!

When making an outline, be sure to think about what you are going to show while talking. Put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes. What message do you want your audience to derive from the visual? Ask “So What?” If you don’t, they will.

Tailor your presentation to your audience. The better your prospective client can relate to the images, the more likely they will see themselves using the solution or product. For example, if it is a proposal talking to the Army, be sure to show images of army personnel. If you can show the product or solution being used by Army personnel, even better! A marketing piece selling to management? Use relevant concepts that your audience can relate to and show people in business related situations.

In my next post, I'll discuss how to keep your graphics simple, relevant, and professional.

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