The 6 Types of Business Presentation Graphics You Can’t Ignore



Just as there are narrative features that enhance a presentation script, there are also several visual language features – business presentation graphics techniques – that can be used in the creation of slides for a presentation.


A presentation with a well-crafted visual language can help the presenter to capture and retain audience attention. But if the visuals are neglected, it will make it hard for the presenter to capture audience attention and may even lead to the presenter making a bad impression.


The 6 types of business presentation graphics you can’t ignore are:


1. Literal Slide

A literal slide is the exact expression of the presenter speech, whether in words or pictures. For example, if a presenter is talking about the Michigan Stadium as the largest football stadium in the U.S. (in terms of capacity), a literal slide would show a global image of the stadium with a textbox saying exactly that: “Michigan Stadium, the largest football stadium in the U.S.”


Literal slides don’t excel in creativity nor surprise the audience. They simply depict exactly what is being said by the presenter. In general, these are not impactful slides, but they can still help the audience to grasp and remember a message, since they convey it visually.


The 6 Types of Business Presentation Graphics You Can’t Ignore

2. Complementary Language

A slide that uses complementary language is one that reveals information additional to that in the presenter’s speech, going beyond the literal. Taking the example above, a slide with complementary language could have the same overall picture of the Michigan Stadium but with a text box saying: “109,901-seat Capacity.” This information would not be in the presenter’s speech but would rather complement it.


3. Metaphor

A slide constructed on the basis of metaphor, shows a striking image that isn’t literal. The metaphor image leads the audience to a profound visual thinking process. Its goal is to create a shortcut to understanding, simplifying what is sometimes complex. The metaphor is powerful because we’re communicating with both the conscious and the unconscious minds of the audience and so facilitating message retention. Still using our example of Michigan Stadium, we could have the following metaphor: Imagine a slide bearing a map of Ann Arbor and above the map a picture of a ticket to a Wolverines game. The slide title could be, “The Largest Stadium in the U.S.” The image in this case doesn’t express literally what the presenter is saying. This is a more subtle way of communicating, based on a reasoning that requires some interpretation for the complete understanding of the message.


4. Image Construction

With this technique, the presenter discloses the information piece by piece, so the audience only fully understands the whole picture after the entire sequence of five or six images is revealed. This method can be used to build the reasoning of the audience, using suspense to generate interest and attention. Returning to our example: First we would see a white- background slide. Then a slide with a picture of the Stadium and the words, “Michigan Stadium” would be shown. In the next slide, the stripes of the U.S. flag would appear behind the Stadium image and the words, “the Largest Stadium,” would appear in front of “Michigan Stadium.” In the final slide, the stars of the U.S. flag would appear and the words, “in the U.S.,” would show in front of “Michigan Stadium, the Largest Stadium.”


5. When a Drawing becomes a Photo

During the presentation, a particular theme can be conveyed with drawings, but at any given time the drawings can give way to real images or photos. This is a way to visually mark two different moments of a presentation: the moment of conflict (illustrated with drawings, for example) and a successful outcome (with photos, for example). Or the moment of a dream (with drawings) and the realization of that dream (real images). The same can be done using a transition from black-and-white images to color. This technique works well in several contexts: to show the good results of an action, to reveal a new product on the market, to point out a solution to a problem, for example.


6. Animations

Animations are sequences of slides that involve movement. Although often attractive, amimation shouldn’t be used just to bring fun to a presentation. The use of this technique should be relevant to the context of the presentation and should have a real purpose. A good animation:


– Creates suspense


– Leads the audience’s thinking in a certain direction


– Reveals a unique visual narrative


– Surprises


Before you add an animation to a presentation, be aware that not all presenters deal well with this type of resource. Using animation requires the synchronization of speech and slide transitions, and some presenters can feel stuck or get lost here.


If you use this feature, please note: if an animation is too fast but is very important, it’s good to draw the audience’s attention back to that animation – show it a second time.


Now that you know the business presentation graphics techniques you can’t ignore, try using different techniques and checking how the audience reacts to each one.