Presentations: Where are the pictures?

By February 7, 2011Presentation Skills

My wonderful family

Pictures are powerful. Look at this lovely photo of my family. That’s me holding my one-year-old daughter, Rosie, with my wife Beth, on a visit to a local farm.

Then consider the trillions of dollars spent on advertising around the world, the aggressive competition for the attention of customers, the demand for expensive postgraduate marketing courses at top universities. We’ve built up a lot of knowledge on how to get people to say “yes”.

So isn’t it remarkable that politicians present themselves like this? Have a quick scroll to see real examples of contemporary British election literature.

Most of it is text. The leaflets try to tell the voter about the candidate and what they stand for. They rely on the optimistic assumption that people will read unsolicited leaflets and reflect on what they say. (You, dear reader, have chosen to visit this blog so I can assume you’ll engage a little more).

They should be showing people something about the candidate – instantly – to persuade voters to engage with the words on the leaflet. Yet where there are pictures, a lot of them are charts or logos. A tiny proportion of the space is given over to the candidate’s face. An even tinier part shows the candidate doing something, revealing something about their life.

We can all learn from this. If you’re pitching a new idea at work, be specific about what you want people to see, as well as think, when you talk about it. The image should be instant – by the time you explain a concept, most people have already made a provisional yes/no judgement based on the first five seconds.

Vote for me. Just look at my family.

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