Lessons from the Shop: Effective Visual Presentations


by Stanley Leary

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In the last 20 years, research has shown that before people make major changes in their behavior, they must be adequately informed by a reliable source, positively motivated, and given opportunities to put their new knowledge into practice.
Recognizing these and other important psychological factors involved in changing attitudes while preparing a visual presentation will make it most effective.
After producing slide shows for some 20+ years I have learned what works well with audiences.
Writing a script and recording a voice over, is a good way to be sure the words will match the images and timing with the best images.
Just using music to accompany the photos is also very effective if you choose the best music to help in creating the right mood.
You can blend these two methods to help your audience, not only communicate a message, but also create the mood and emotional impact desired.
There are a few guidelines that can help you with a self-running presentation (as opposed to a PowerPoint and a presenter).
· Keep images no longer than 10 seconds on the screen
· Limit the length to a maximum of 20 minutes in length
· Use multiple images on subjects when script runs longer than 10 seconds
Plan ahead using 3” x 5” cards to know how many visuals you will need. This will help you before you start shooting your images.
When shooting away from the office, allow a half-day minimum for shooting. It will take that long to pack up your gear, drive through traffic, search for a parking space, shoot and get back.
Even when you’re shooting on home ground or have your work confined to a few locations, allow 30 minutes for each separate scene in the show, even if each only requires one or two shots.
Increase the time per scene if:
· You’re a novice photographer· Your subjects are NOT professional models or actors
· Your subjects are reluctant to pose
· Lighting conditions are poor and you have to use a tripod or extra lighting
· You’re shooting in an unfamiliar part of town or another community and need extra time for finding your way
· You’re not entirely sure what you want and have to survey the location in order to plan the shots In case there’s more than one person in the shot, you’ll also have to shoot extra pictures. When you photograph three people, expect that only one shot in three turns out (10 people = 1 shot in 10).
When shooting a sequence, begin with an overall view or a long shot, then tighten to a medium view or a medium shot, then tighten to a close-up or even extreme close-up of the action or scene.
No matter what the subject, your audience will follow your steps and fill in the gaps in this visual sequence—if you maintain continuity throughout the presentation. You can reduce the number of gaps that the viewer must fill in by including additional shots of the computers, people working, etc. Also, by varying shots these shots from wide to close-up, you’ll have a number of alternative ways to edit the scenes together.
Above all keep it simple. It is always better to leave them wanting more than wishing it was shorter.