Since the birth of presentation creators such as Powerpoint, KeyNote, and Prezi, communicators have poured time and effort into crafting works of art to illustrate their messages. In the world of Churchland, ministry leaders have come to embrace these tools as well. This has become the standard of effective communication in the 21st century, as media is the new avenue for catching an audience’s attention.
However, visual presentations can be the double-edged sword in a communicator’s world. As with all works of art, there is good art and there is bad art. Whether it will be used for a message on Sunday mornings, a budget layout for the upcoming fiscal year, or a missions-minded vision to be shared with other community leaders, there are potholes to avoid and guidelines to follow when building an effective visual presentation.
Here are ten tips for ministry communicators to keep in mind when creating their next visual presentation:
1. In the words of Stephen Covey, begin with the end in mind. If you can communicate your goal at the beginning of your presentation, you will have your audience’s attention right out of the starting gate.
2. Raise the issue early. Don’t leave your audience wondering what you’re trying to communicate. Raise the issue, repeat the issue, and leave no doubt in their minds. Make them want to change because of your message.
3. Less is more. Boil down your slides and texts to the bare minimum so you can mentally expand as you progress through the presentation. A multitude of slides will drive your audience to start checking their phones.
4. Make your text readable. If your audience wanted to read a book, they would go to the library, not your presentation. Keep it short and simple. Also, make the font size at a manageable height and type for your audience to read. The font size for your text should be around 30 with a title font size around 40 for most presentation settings. If you’re quoting Scripture, be okay with splicing up the passage into more than one slide.
5. Save the spins and twirls for Six Flags, not your slideshow. Whirling intro texts, zooms, and spinning letters are a distraction and take away from what your text is meant to communicate.
6. A picture paints a thousand words. So does a video clip. Interchange slides with pictures to create an engaging experience for your audience. Pictures and videos can carry powerful emotions when used in a natural and tasteful way.
7. Clip art has died; let it rest in peace. Prepare to be mocked if you use clip art in your slideshow. Instead you should use good stock photos to enhance an idea. There are plenty of resources available at sites like Stock.XCHNG that will give your presentation the eye candy it needs to help make its mental mark.
8. Use your bullets wisely. Three or four bullets can be good leverage in succinctly communicating an idea. More than four bullets together begin to look like a checklist.
9. Hone your presentation to the right time length. Your effectiveness will take a dramatic dip if you are fast-forwarding through slides to meet your time length. Plan to finish early and leave your audience wanting more.
10. Make your ending matter. Finish with a conclusion that is succinct and effective. It’s the finale for your fireworks show and should be treated with the same level of attention. If it is a message on Sunday mornings, think through what heart change you would want your audience to experience after hearing your message?
Visual presentations can be exceptionally effective tools in underlining your message. Following these tips and others will help keep you and your audience on track and interested in what you have to say. Take the extra time to turn your presentation into a work of art and watch your effectiveness grow.