7 advanced visual tricks for business presentations that no one taught you

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

Two things before we start: these tricks work in nearly any presentation tool, be it the classical PPT, the cool looking Prezi or Moovly or even when delivering business content via the new gamechangers VR or AR presentations (I particularly liked the demos I’ve seen from BrioVR).

Second, when using these tricks, be careful who reviews your work. I remember how, roughly one year ago, a PPT I’ve done using these tricks, got reviewed by a colleague. He knew well his business domain, but he was creating awfully blunt content when it came to presentations. He set all my fonts to an equal size, removed colours and added a load of heavy text. In the end, I refused to present that.

Here we go – the 7 advanced visual tricks you can use in your presentations:

1.     Green is good, red is bad. Try this: make a pie chart in excel showing percentages of a market: yours is 7%, main competitor is 52%, others 41%. Colour your slice in vivid green, the competitor’s in solid red and the other’s in a light blue. 3D-enhance the green slice. Now look at it again. How does it make you feel? Strong / vivid shades of a colour, emphasize. Light shades undermine.

2.     Increase slightly the font on keywords, without making it noticeable at a first glance. If the whole phrase is written with a font of 14, use a zise of 15 or 16 for just one word. You can also visually enlarge facts that work in your favour, versus your competitors.

3.     When numbers are low, use percentages instead, but don’t exaggerate. You have a unit with 30 people: 10 are senior consultants, 3 of them are certified in whatever -> “32% of your senior consultants are certified”. I didn’t use 33 because even numbers are preferred by people and give a positive feeling. One rule though: never lie. Presenting a different face of a truth is one thing, telling a lie is a whole different story.

4.     Use round shapes or wide angles to sell your ideas. Ditch the bullet points – they are killing your pitch. Use a circle with lines coming out. Narrow angles are aggressive and tend to create negative feelings.

5.     Use upward arrows / trends when presenting. Practical example: you have a timeline, starting at zero on the left and reaching the objective on the right. Why use a straight line, when you can display an upward trend with round milestones?

6.     Present with visuals that create positive feelings and always with high quality graphics (free stock photos). Let’s say you have a pie chart to display where the numbers work in your favour. Why use the ordinary chart and not a tasty, simple looking, cake or cookie (don’t overdo it)? Look at the image accompanying this article. We already know what people will remember at the end : ) If you use people in pictures, they should be facing forward and be good looking. Avoid professional models, because the person in the picture must look ‘approachable’.

7.     Less is more: less content, more reading. One of the rules in sales pitches is that you have to bring in maximum 3 arguments (obviously the strongest). Anything that follows dilutes the initial arguments. Clarity beats persuasion. What’s wrong with a slide that just says: “We are the number 1 source of business intelligence”? Or a slide showing just this: “Our offer: 100k / project/ year. Competitor: 200k / project / year”. White space is good. Keep it nice and tidy.