We know actions speak louder than words, but do you know what else speak louder than words? Images – and there’s a very good reason for it too. Our brains naturally process images more easily, taking only 13 milliseconds to process an entire image. Hence, it comes with little surprise that visuals have been found to increase user engagement by as much as 94%.
If you frequently run team meetings, head brainstorming sessions or large scale conferences, it’s about time you consider adding images to your audience engagement efforts (if you haven’t already done it). And for the skeptic in you, here are seven reasons why adding good visuals in your presentations could do a lot of good for your audience engagement.
1. Visual aids add clarity to your message
Try describing a new colour with just words to an audience. You will realise that it puts you in a bit of a pickle.
Sometimes words alone make it difficult to convey a message clearly to your audience, especially when you are describing something that is rather abstract or visual. By adding good supporting images in your presentation slides or live polls, you eliminate the potential for miscommunication between you and your audience. This is particularly pertinent if you are discussing and voting on an important decision and need everyone to be on the same page.
2. Images simplify the message conveyed during your presentation
Do you frequently experience your audience staring at you blankly or frowning at your slides? Dense and complex messaging could be your pitfall. We all have to present difficult concepts sometimes but the key to doing it successfully is by breaking those complex information into digestible bits.
Another trick is to, yes you guessed it, add some good visual aids. Whether it’s flow charts, word clouds or relevant images, adding these visual aids into your presentation can simplify your message and help retain your audience’s interest.
Even if you are using live polls or quizzes during your presentation to drive engagement, make sure you simplify convoluted sentences and add images where necessary to make your message clear to your audience. If your audience are re-reading your questions or answer options to make out what you are saying, you will probably lose valuable engagement in your polls.
3. Adorable and funny pictures spice up your icebreakers
Ever been in situation where you are presenting to a crowd of “not morning people” in the morning? It can be frustrating and demoralising to try your best to get the energy level up and have your audience remain unenthused.
This is where cats come in handy.
Cats? Yes, cats, dogs, ducks… whatever is your idea of adorable. Think about those goofy dog videos on Facebook or BuzzFeed quizzes on cute animals that instantly put you in a better mood during groggy mornings in the office. The idea here is the same.
Sometimes your audience just need to break the ice before giving you their undivided attention. Instead of immediately opening with serious questions or jumping straight into your presentation, try adding fun polls with attractive or funny images. Conduct a trivia quiz, vote on unpopular food combinations or simply pick your favourite kitten image with your audience. You’d be surprised about what it can do for their energy level, and even yours!
4. Relevant illustrations increase audience attention and memory
Humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, which is bad news for presenters. Capturing audience attention is the first step to engaging them but with the myriads of distractions that exist around us (or in our smartphones), it is an increasingly difficult task. According to this Forbes article, adding shocking statistics or images is a great way to grab your audience attention before presenting key points.
Once you’ve succeeded with getting your audience’s attention, you need to ensure they remember the content you presented on. I’m guessing engagement for the sake of engagement does not correspond to your KPI. According to HubSpot, pairing a relevant image to information helps us retain 65% of the information three days later, compared to the 10% we retain without the help of an image. Hence, incorporating relevant illustrations can help to build a more memorable presentation.
To take things up a notch, set up live polls and quizzes with images used in your presentation to test audience on the content you delivered to yield better success rates for your overall presentation. Use platforms that offer Powerpoint integrations so you can embed live polls within your presentation slides for a seamless presentation.
5. Powerful images can evoke emotional connection
Reflect on what great presenters do best – they make you feel emotional about what they are presenting even if you have little knowledge on the topic. The likes of Steve Jobs have found the fundamental secret to captivating their audience - emotional connection. Once you evoke an emotional connection, you get to hold audience attention and interest for a longer period of time and derive better impact from your engagement.
Images are a short-cut to building emotional connection. Why? Firstly, as science has proved, humans are visual creatures. Around 90% of the information transmitted to our brain is visual. Hence, it’s easier for us to connect with images on a deeper level.
Secondly, images can convey more cues than words. This is because images are able to capture complex and abstract concepts like emotions and colour, and convey them effectively to audience. These additional cues are able to evoke a deeper connection from the audience, making their engagement more rewarding, both for them and for you.
6. Images make audience engagement more inclusive
If you are hosting a transnational event or need your presentations to cater to a culturally or linguistically diverse audience, audience engagement can be quite a challenge.
To make sure ice-breakers and opinion polls are more inclusive, add images to the mix. Images are universal. Unlike clever jokes, or funny limericks understanding an image requires little context or linguistic expertise. As a result, your activities will appeal to a larger audience and make an impactful connection regardless of the language barriers that might exist.
7. Images help to break the monotone
If you regularly use audience engagement polls, you’d be familiar with the different types of polls: multiple choice polls, open-text polls, word clouds, quizzes. Hosting long events would mean that you need to conduct many polls during the sessions, to increase engagement, check understanding, conduct ice-breakers and even get a quick feedback.
While polls are a fun way to get your audience opinion and increase engagement, overusing the same format of polls can come off a little boring and repetitive. It’s great to switch between poll formats while also adding images into the mix to keep the sessions fun and engaging from start to end.