Mia Liljeberg Powerful PresentationsPowerPoint is one of the most used presentation tools in the world. Just like me, I am sure, many of you have had to attend more than one too many boring presentations. 

For this blog, I interviewed Mia Liljeberg who lives in Sweden. I met her in Phoenix, Arizona, during a professional speaking conference. Mia is a visual practitioner, an expert on capturing information with visual tools and stimulating creative thinking. According to Mia, visual tools and strategy gain more and more importance in a world that gets more visually focussed every single day.

How do you get to the keywords of your presentation?
To create a good presentation with slides, it is important to know exactly what you are going to say and which particular words you will use. If you know how to do this, you have the key to the secret of a presentation that is clear to everyone. Mia’s tip is to imagine you have to deliver your presentation to a ten-year-old. This way, you challenge yourself to phrase your message in the clearest way possible and find the words to put into your presentation. This is also a good method for finding suitable images.

Should you use as many images as possible in your presentation?
There are more and more speakers who use images, like diagrams, models and pictures, in their presentations. This is a good thing. Our brain hasn’t evolved much. Sight is still our strongest sense. But does this mean that we should only use images in our slides?
According to Mia, it is important to keep your audience’s attention by varying your slides, to keep them alert. Keep switching between pictures, models and quotes. Visuals are very convincing. Whenever you look for a book in a bookstore and you find one with just text and another one – on the same subject – with visuals in it, like diagrams and models, the second one will probably seem more convincing and reliable to you. This works in the just same way for presentations: they are more convincing when you use images.

What are the best images to use?
 A model helps your audience to want to know the details and the data in your presentation. It gives your audience a foundation for making sense of your entire presentation. Clear diagrams can also help convincing your audience. Photos are particularly suitable if you want to convey emotions. However, picking the right photos is crucial and can be tricky. Pictures that aren’t the right fit with your audience can really work against you. If you don’t want to risk emotionally triggering your audience in the wrong way, it might be better to use images of metaphors instead. A well-known example is the top of an iceberg sticking out of the sea with the rest of it underneath, which can be used as a metaphor for many things. For example, the customer represents the top of the iceberg and the rest of the iceberg represents customer focus. This might very well be a better picture to use than a stock photo of an uninterested sales woman, which your audience might not identify at all. Imagine you are a sales woman and you are depicted in a presentation as an unmotivated employee. Big chance you wouldn’t want to sit through the rest of the presentation.

hond op mat powerful presentationsAn image says more than a thousand words
This expression was already used by American editor Arthur Brisbane in 1911. By saying this, he referred to the idea that an image would sell much easier than a piece of text. However, one word can also create a thousand images in your audience’s mind and this can be tricky for a speaker. Mia mentions that in business, there are a lot of abstract terms, which you have never seen in your own life. If you are not using visuals, you cannot be sure you are understanding each other. For example, if you talk about a dog on a mat, not everyone pictures the same dog on the same mat. You think in terms of your own perception frames.

One final tip from Mia
Every speaker wants his or her story to be shared, but the fact that you have a good story doesn’t necessarily mean it will be retold. Visuals will make it easier for your audience to understand, remember and share your message. If you notice some of your slides are getting photographed often, you can add you Twitter address to the slide. This way your audience and the people they share it with will know and remember that it was a slide from your presentation.
The key to every presentation is: less is more. But be careful. Variation is important for engaging your entire audience and keeping them alert. We all have different preferences.

Do you want to present with more results? Frowa Schuitemaker is an expert on professionally connecting with audiences by using slides and how to speak with more long-term impact. Together with Charlotte Schuitemaker she wrote Powerful Presentations – How to Easily Create and Use Impactful, Brain-Friendly Slide Presentations with the P-IQ method. In addition to the book, Frowa has developed an exceptional card deck titled Powerful Presentations.