Master Your Message Blog


Screen layout is really important to getting your message across.

Our eyes go to the lightest part of the frameTake this screen. Where does your eye go? Most people would say … to the brightest part of the background.

For me, the brightest part of the frame is the back of that lady’s head. In other words, the lightest object on the screen grabs your attention.

My frame of reference for light and its affect on us is television, film, and theatre. I’ve spent decades working across those areas. What I’ve learned is that our eyes are attracted by light, so put more light on the most important elements to make them brighter. Put less light on the unimportant information.

You need to think like that when you design your slides. It’s why light Read More …

The primary objective of presentations is NOT to be pretty. The primary objective is to persuade or impart information.

Pretty but busy slideI mean, they CAN be pretty, but if pretty (or busy) gets in the way of the message, it’s a problem!

Sometimes what you think is a brilliant idea, just doesn’t make it in the implementation stage. Remember, screen real estate is dear. There’s never enough of it.

Well, in fact, the information you put on the screen should not need any more space than what’s available. And that brings us to the first of two major rules:

  1. Less is More.  Each screen should support one point and only one point. Don’t try and put everything you can think of up there. Who’s going to remember Read More …

The Ultimate Screen – what a title! Makes you think I’m going to show you the most wonderful, most powerful screen of all! Well, I am!

However, you have to buy into a simple, radical concept … pictures are more powerful than words.

We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words. In fact, our brains only see pictures. We see words as lots of little “letter-pictures.”

Get this book: Brain Rules by John Medina. It’s full of lots of facts as to how we learn, particularly in presentations.

And get this … if we say something important in a presentation, 72 hours later, people will remember 10%. That number goes up to 65% if we add a picture.

Better still … Read More …

Words actually don’t exist … to our brains, at any rate. We don’t see words as a series of letters. We see them as pictures.

I know … that changes things. When we read a word, we actually see it as a whole bunch of little tiny pictures. We look for features like horizontal or vertical lines, rounded corners, etc. and then we think back to our library of letter images and match it up to what we’ve stored from the past.

Over time, we get pretty darn good at this process and it takes us milliseconds to do all the calculations and read a sentence. So reading text is highly taxing on our brains. As a result, text presentations are simply not very effective Read More …

Why It’s Important to “Paint with Light”

The lightness of the colors you use in your presentation visuals is really important in getting your message across.

screen1webTake a look at this screen on the left. Where does your eye go? Most people would say … to the brightest part of the background. That’s the back of that lady’s head. In other words, the lightest object on the screen grabs your attention.

I learned this fact in television. “Lightness” is a really important element of shot composition.

I spent ten years of my life writing, producing, and directing television. The bulk of the commercials I produced promoted one product or another. I learned early on that if you don’t light the product properly, you’ll lose sales. Read More …

Close-up shot of roaring lionBusinesspeople are mounting more and more presentations every year. Surveys tell us this.

They also tell us that audiences know … with utmost certainty … that 90% of what they’re going to be subjected to is downright boring … served on a thick foundation of PowerPoint crap—in other words, designed to suck any remaining energy out of an otherwise pleasant, uplifting day.

Here’s a fact: The number one thing audiences hate is for presenters to stand in front of them and read their text-packed, full sentence slides.

So don’t do it. Roar like a lion!

If it’s a report, email it to your audience and save you and them a whole lot of pain.

 I’ll never forget a morning a few years back in Read More …

Here’s my third rule relating back to my cover article of earlier this week.

We make decisions based on emotion and justify them based on facts.

The majority of people don’t buy a car based upon how economically it will get them from A to B. It’s usually something else … like the most new gizmos, the color, the speed … or just the way it makes them feel. If they can imagine themselves enjoying driving that particular car, the sale is made.

We buy most items based on emotion, not logic.

Imagine taking this little baby for a spin!

Even in the corporate environment, emotion is most often the factor that will sway your audience. How they feel about the information presented will likely be the deciding factor as to how they Read More …

Here’s my second rule relating back to my cover article of earlier this week.

Visuals can sometimes detract from the emotional substance of your talk. For example, real emotional impact comes from the use of your audience’s imagination. The more concrete you make an image on a screen, the less it “belongs” to your audience. It’s your image, not theirs. They don’t “own” the image because they’re not emotionally connected to it.

In the 1930s, radio plays were today’s film blockbusters. They drew far greater audiences than any other format – “radio for the mind.” You would listen so intently as actors portrayed scenes so vividly written that you were completely drawn in. Sound effects helped make them “mind candy.” Talk about engaged!

You Read More …

Here’s my first rule relating back to my cover article of earlier this week.

We don’t think in words; we think in pictures. It’s images that engage minds.

Painting from cave man daysThink back to caveman days (not personal memories—although it’s been suggested I could relate my own stories of that era—but rather what you know about how they communicated). The walls of their caves were filled with rudimentary visual images of their exploits. They shared stories in pictures.

Of course, they hadn’t invented language yet and so this was the only means they had to share their knowledge. But language is only a set of symbols that represent pictures in our mind.

Take this example: If I were to ask you to think of an “ice cream Read More …