What Makes Visual Storytelling So Important For Any Presentation?

Could visual storytelling be the missing link in your presentation?

The brain processes images around 60,000 times faster than words, so in that respect it’s not difficult to see why including visual storytelling in your presentation can help keep your audience’s attention and make for a far more memorable experience.

Maybe you like the sound of having a presentation that’s more visual and engaging – but you aren’t quite sure where to start, or even if it’s going to be something that will fit your own business.

Especially if you work in a sector that some may consider to be very dry subject matter (finance, legal, engineering etc.), you might find it difficult to imagine how a story might fit into the message you want customers to take home. But trust us, it can be done and is almost more important in these sectors!

As visual storytellers who specialise in developing interactive presentations, we’re going to explain why visual storytelling is such an important element – and how it can work for just about anyone.

Why is visual storytelling so important?

Well, you know the old saying, ‘a picture can tell a thousand words’. It may be old news, but visuals are intrinsically more emotional and memorable, which means people tend to be more receptive to them. Stories are the best way to make an impact on us humans – in fact, like an article we recently read quite rightly says, it’s been a winning strategy for thousands of years.

Another important element here is that stories are also more memorable, and are easier to recall later when someone has to repeat your proposition back to other members of their team – or are faced with making that all-important decision about your product, brand or service.

Perhaps Nancy Duarte said it best:

“A story, in a business context, creates an opportunity for us to emotionally appeal to and influence our employees, stakeholders, customers, and partners by providing a path to meaning. It’s that emotional appeal that is so motivating and effective.”

So, if you can get the story and visuals right, you’ll be left with something that will hopefully hit home with your audience (more about that below).

Is a visual presentation always the way to go?

Good question (but unfortunately not an easy answer). It very much depends on the content you’re trying to get across, along with the message and the impression you want to leave your audience with. However, the one thing we often find is that once you mention storytelling, sometimes people think this might belittle their content – or that it isn’t serious enough.

This isn’t the case and is a mistake. Visuals don’t always have to be playful; just as words and numbers can be as serious or frivolous as you like, imagery can also be flexible. Even the most serious and complex of narratives can be helped by the use of visuals in order to support your message (whatever that may be).

↑ This presentation for Fedr8 uses a simple customer building as part of their visual storytelling around customer challenges and trends.

The key here is finding the right angle or way to tell your story that’s going to work visually, and also strike the right chord with your audience.

  • Which visuals might be familiar and relevant to them?
  • What can you show them that they’re going to identify with most?
  • Which visuals will really resonate with them when telling your story?

You should also carefully consider how the visuals will fit in with your brand, and the style of illustration you wish to use to get across your message. For instance, it could be serious, light-hearted, technical, or friendly – or any combination of those things.

Isotrak - Isometric City Infographics on Tablet - POPcomms

↑ For Isotrak’s fleet telematic customers, roadside visuals represent the environment they are familiar with. 

Remember, a bad visual can be just as bad as not having any visuals at all, so it’s important to get it right.

Where to start with visual storytelling

Love the idea of including visual storytelling in your next presentation, but don’t know where to begin?

Well, first you need to define the action you want your audience to take after the presentation is over, and then work back from there. Consider the messages and narrative flow that will persuade your audience to take the action you want them to take. Once you’ve pinpointed that, you can then look at how you can visualise your story to create maximum impact.

↑ With complex messaging such as Citrix’s application security, the right visuals can easily convey the right story. 

TIP: We’ve actually written a blog post recently about some of the main options to consider when creating a persuasive interactive presentation – hopefully it should be of some help!

One mistake people generally make is when they start to think about storytelling, they lead with their products or solutions – rather than the problem their products or solutions might solve for their customers.

In this case, starting with what you know isn’t necessarily the best way. This is because it’s not about telling a story from your perspective; the key is to make it all about the customer. Ask yourself…

  • What would resonate with you if you were them?
  • What would help you to best understand the value proposition of your business?
  • What would bring those messages to life for you?

↑ For fleet telematics and routing specialists Paragon, we built this interactive cityscape of a customers logistic environment.

For example, what are the problems or challenges that your products or services help people overcome? (If you’ve already developed buyer personas for your brand, this part should be easy)

Advice from the presentation pros

If you’d prefer to get some outside help for your visual storytelling presentation, the other option is to get in touch with an interactive design agency. They should be able to help you out by asking you all the right questions, and listening to your needs before providing you with some free, impartial advice.

You’ll also be able to get a better feel for what they do by asking to see some previous examples of their work, and client testimonials. Remember, there’s no rush to choose an agency, so take your time researching some of your best options, and ask them about the processes they use.

TIP: Here are six tips for choosing the right presentation design agency, via ColumnFiveMedia.

One of our clients, Isotrak, had a very product-led presentation that was also content-heavy. Our solution was to use a very effective visual storytelling technique called ‘a day in the life’, to help highlight to customers how Isotrak’s products worked in their world – and how their businesses could benefit.

↑ This day in the life scenario for Isotrak visualises the customer’s daily operations, demonstrating how Isotrak solutions can add user and business benefits. 

In summary

Visual storytelling can help you connect with your audience and leave a lasting impression – not to mention allowing them to better understand how your products or services can impact on their world. It also takes you another step away from a presentation that’s dull, content-heavy or just not particularly memorable.

This is something you can achieve in-house or with a design agency – depending on how much of the work you want to take on yourself. But if you’re at all unsure, a good interactive design agency should be able to guide the way and at least offer you some free, impartial advice to point you in the right direction.

Curious about what else can be achieved with visual storytelling? Get in touch with us via the handy contact form below. We promise to reply with something helpful!

Stuart Janicki

Stuart Janicki
Senior Content Designer
stuart@popcomms.com

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