Visuals and Words Working Together

Comments ( 0 )

I was recently reminded of the importance of the balance between visuals and the spoken word.

I led a session for a small group from a very successful boutique branding and design firm. After discussing the content of an effective presentation, they each delivered a sales or progress report presentation. I knew they would blow me away with their visuals. They do beautiful work and have breathtaking photos and graphics to prove it. Well, I was partially right.

Yes, they included wonderful visual examples of the branding and design ideas they offered: photographs reflecting branding concepts, examples of their work, and images of how familiar companies use branding concepts in their design. All that was terrific. Unfortunately, they also included other material that pulled the life right out of those beautiful images, and their presentations.

Some slides were all copy, featuring sentences explaining the branding ideas. There were also multiple slides with lists of descriptive words, related concepts, and branding theories. The presenters would basically read the slides, then show — with little comment — the visuals illustrating them. Using lots of words on slides is not unusual in many business presentations, but is it the most effective use of visuals?

In the case of this talented group, their presentations would have been much more powerful if they had eliminated the words-only slides. The information on those slides was crucial and needed to be part of the presentation, just not written out. I advised the presenters to cut out the wordy slides. I suggested they could introduce, say a branding concept, with an initial slide with a word or two on it, and thereafter use only visually descriptive images to illustrate that concept.

With no more slides to read from, they spoke spontaneously to the main ideas. They fleshed out their concepts much more fully, and by doing so connected with their audience (me.) Their lush photographs and designs made much more of an impact, no longer diluted by a lot of written text in between.

In the end, they arrived at beautifully integrated presentations, using their visuals to enhance their spoken words, and their descriptive language to enhance the visuals.

Until the next time…



If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it!
Icon Icon Icon


  • "As someone who presents opinion pieces and data to large crowds, Kayla was instrumental in helping me focus and deliver the optimal speech and flow. I appreciate her time and intensity on helping me better relay my key points both in context and delivery." Sean Finnegan
  • "Kayla has a real knack for getting to the heart of a message and helping express it both rationally and emotionally for maximum effectiveness. She knows how to put a speaker at ease and get them ready to speak in high-stress situations. An hour with Kayla will make you a ‘Great Communicator." Lisa Merriam, President, Merriam Associates
  • "Kayla was an excellent presentation coach. She not only helped me discoverhow to turn a long, dry presentation into a story that is interactive andinteresting, but also helped me understand what it was that triggered mynervousness and gave me great suggestions on how to control it. Kayla isvery unique and invests all of her energy into your success." Christine Zambrana, Associate Director, Oncology Marketing

Newsletter Signup

All we need is your email: