PR pros are always looking to improve themselves, and one area everyone can improve upon is how we give presentations and deliver our messages.
Too often, people give talks instead of presentations, full of valuable information, but short on the skills that it takes to keep an audience attuned. It's hard—and it's time that we accepted that we can gain wisdom from others who have mastered the art of visual storytelling.
Just think about all of those times you sat in on someone else's presentation and found it to be slow and boring. That's because people will find something else to look at when they need to. Once you've lost them, it's extremely difficult to gain back their trust, and their focus. Only a select group of people can cover the ground they wish to in a meaningful and compelling manner.
The first rule you should remember is that your audience can read faster than you can speak. What this means is that if you put text on the screen, they will read ahead, get the gist of your point, and be craving the next slide well before you're ready to toggle over. In the interim, there will be seconds periods when people will sit staring and waiting for you to get out of their way.
You become a roadblock in that instance, not their instructor. Avoid this predicament by limiting the amount of text you put on the screen and keeping people engaged with you. If they look past you at your slides, video, or live visual aids, you are rendered less useful to them than you should be.
Rely on yourself. If you prepare and go in with the right strategy and confidence level, you will emerge as their educator. Finding ways to work in visual aids can be tricky, though. For example, a video can be effective to showcase testimonials or a history of the topic at hand, but it should never replace the one-on-one interaction you have with your audience.
People will gain a tremendous amount from watching a well-cut video, yet you are the one who they have come to see and listen to. It takes a special variety of dynamic visual aid on top of great public speaking to make a presentation worthwhile.
Of course, presentations aren't the only area where visual storytelling takes place. When it comes to making artwork that you'll be putting out into the world, without an instructor beside it to describe and help illuminate it, you'll want to run the proofs by someone outside your company for real feedback.
Research is crucial for a good campaign or ad, and the same can be said for photography or video that you make yourself. These unbiased critiques will bring you a perspective you lack, as you sometimes will be too close to the material to be able to see certain things.
Through speaking to others, and seeing how they approach similar projects, you can improve over time. If you get started now, you'll look back a few months from now and recognize how far you've come.
[RELATED: Learn to write a great speech, no matter what time crunch you're in.]
Some of the inspiration for this post came from the video below:
Danny Groner is the manager of blogger partnerships and outreach for Shutterstock and Skillfeed.