When you hear the phrase “visual storytelling,” a lot of things might come to mind. Videos, animations, even things like newspaper comic strips. But when we talk about visual storytelling, what we mean is using your visuals as a means of supporting and strengthening your message, not replacing it.
Visual storytelling in business presentations means showing instead of telling. It means selecting images, infographics or other visuals instead of pushing more and more text onto a slide. And it’s one of the best (but least used) storytelling techniques for presentations that helps you craft a memorable and effective PowerPoint.
Here are a few of the reasons that you should consider using visual storytelling and other storytelling presentation ideas for your next PowerPoint presentation:
Visual storytelling helps the audience better absorb information
Contrary to almost every PowerPoint presentation you’ve ever sat through, science has shown that an audience can’t read content on a slide and listen to what a speaker is saying at the same time. Essentially, that means that too much text, even if it's read to the audience, can short-circuit the brain and reduce information retention.
So instead of typing out every word and then reading your slides aloud, you can use storytelling techniques for presentations to start thinking about how visuals can support your spoken message. By using visuals as a supplement to a well-considered voiceover, you’ll not only keep the attention on you, you’ll also improve your audience’s ability to remember what you are saying. That’s a win-win.
And if you are still worried about prioritizing visuals over text, a similar approach is used by world-class memory champions to help rapidly commit information to memory and make connections among seemingly disparate pieces of information.
A picture is worth a thousand words
That phrase may be a cliché, but there’s a reason it’s still in use: it’s true. Beyond just acting as a supplementary aid to a thoughtful voiceover, visual storytelling can actually communicate entire ideas, without you having to say (or write) a word. Here’s why:
Visuals can quickly communicate relationships, such as depth and breadth, and are helpful for comparing and contrasting information.
Visuals also excel at quickly conveying emotion. A striking photograph can set the mood for your presentation. Images can be juxtaposed to make unexpected comparisons that leave an impact on the audience. They can also be used to enhance the impact of a statement: just imagine saying “sales are up” as opposed to also using a graph with a trend line shooting through the top of the screen.
Finally, adding motion to your storytelling techniques for presentations also reinforces learning, while giving you the ability to pace out when information comes on screen. This is one of the best ways to support your voice over with visuals.
Put simply, visual storytelling (and storytelling for business presentations in general) is about learning to show, not just tell. Not only does it help your audience to retain information, but also makes them more engaged with your delivery by letting them discover and infer the most impactful pieces of your message, rather than be a passive audience to a lecture.
Still not sure how visual storytelling can work for you? Browse our blog for more storytelling and presentation design ideas.