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Is a picture really worth a 1000 words?

December 5, 2011

Picture of marigold and butterflyOne of the things that’s consistently recommended by presentation guru’s like Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds is the use of images, instead of lots of text.

I’ve used it and I’m a sincere believer in its effectiveness.  However, for presentations in my ‘day job’ environment, rarely have I found an opportunity to embrace the PresentationZen-style with visuals containing few words and lots of pictures.

The reasons are probably are familiar to you and I see them falling into three groups:

  • I’m rarely in full control of the presentation style and there’s an insistence that the slides be slideuments, i.e., all the content is on them, so that means tons of text.
  • The PZ-style is so far out of the expectation that I simply can’t get there.
  • I may not have a decent library of good, topic-appropriate images available, at least not for free.

Despite those obstacles, I keep up the “good fight” and focus on what I can do to improve things and not worry about what I can’t do. Even little changes help.

In the next couple posts I’m going say a bit about using images in our presentations: a little on options for finding them, a bit about what makes a picture a good one for presentation use, and some tips for effectively using them  in your presentation.

And the answer is that the research says a good picture is actually worth a lot more than 1000 words, mostly because picture+text is a lot more effective than any amount of text alone.

Related post:
Visual Composition: the “rule of thirds”

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