Finding Your Presentation Metaphor: by Jim Endicott

Created: Wednesday, May 18, 2016, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 am



For most people, creating presentations is not their day job. They sell things. They manage people. They drive projects. They make stuff happen.

So it’s understandable that when it becomes necessary to actually create a presentation, the process is rarely motivated by an understanding of the science of how our brains actually assimilate information (who has time for that). But more often by what’s easiest and fastest. Creating bullets and sub-bullets – piece of cake. But for those who have to actually sit through 60 minutes of the stuff, that form of information has become the visual equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard.

For a presentation to be meaningful and remembered (hopefully that’s every presenter’s goal), there needs to be a fundamental shift in our thinking. The information hitting the wall must evolve from text-oriented (left-brain) type content to more simplified visually-rich ideas (right-brain).

So let’s get very practical for a moment.

One way we can make that transition occur is through the use of metaphor. By creating relatable buckets for the information to reside in, understanding happens more quickly and audiences sincerely appreciate the effort made on their behalf.

Here, the initial slide identifies 8 sales training categories in bullet form. One minute of time invested. Something we’ve all seen a thousand times before. (“Time to check email on my smart phone”)

Finding Your Presentation Metaphor

In this example, that same concept is illustrated as categories on a bookshelf. Then during the presentation, each one is pulled down off the shelf and the icon used to explore the topic. Visual connections. Buckets for their brains to make exploration easier. (“This presentation just might be different than the last 20”)

Finding Your Presentation Metaphor

So my challenge to you, find your metaphor.

Does this type of thinking come naturally for everyone? The answer is no. But if we want to have a larger pay-off for the time invested creating the presentation in the first place, then this kind of left to right brain transition must happen much more often than it does and here’s how to get help.

Take an hour to sit down with a friend who’s involved in design. Explain the context. Get their ideas and maybe solicit their help to create some basic graphical elements for you.

The time invested, can be the difference between much more immediate engagement with your audiences and them heading prematurely to the exit because they just can’t take another bullet slide today.

See Also: Jim Endicott on Indezine

Jim EndicottJim Endicott is an internationally-recognized management consultant, executive coach and author. Jim’s company, Distinction Communication Inc., works with clients ranging from Fortune 500 executives to small business start-ups to help them enhance the personal communication effectiveness of those tasked with communicating high-stakes, high-profile messages.

Jim has also been a Jesse H. Neal award‐winning columnist for Presentations magazine and has also contributed presentation‐related content to magazines like Business Week, Consulting, Selling Power and the Portland Business Journal.

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