I’ll cut to the chase - the answer is the latter
The regular sight of infographic designs in sales presentations is the latest in a long line of presentation fads, albeit a welcome step in the right direction.
Over the past few years we’ve said hello to Prezi, pretty much bye-bye to eMaze and had to endure a whole heap of presenters getting over-excited with new PowerPoint animations and transitions.
And now we’re seeing more and more infographics appearing in sales presentations. At this point, you may be picking up on a slightly cynical tone.
Fear not. I really do love infographics – they are a superb trend which, over the last few years, has quite rightly taken the graphic design world by storm.
The benefits are clear for all to see – they’re just so easy-to-digest. The way they can visually communicate an entire story around a complex topic is a joy to behold. From the sublime (London Underground map) through to the ridiculous (how you’re related to Kevin Bacon), the infographic is a thing of beauty in a complex and noisy world. Bravo to all involved!
Infographics are great – just not in presentations
Eyeful is a presentation design company lucky enough to have built a reputation for creating great sales presentations that get businesses the results they need. So why wouldn’t I want these slickly designed graphics in our customer’s presentations?
The answer is pretty simple
By its very nature a good infographic tells its reader pretty much the whole story, operating completely independently of either large amounts of supporting text or a live presenter.
Infographics clearly and simply deliver their story in one short glorious hit of minimal copy wrapped in great design.
A presentation though is a live event, delivered by a presenter who puts their PowerPoint presentation visuals into context when they talk. It doesn’t really matter how – PowerPoint, Prezi, Whiteboard – the key is that the presentation only truly works with them delivering it.
By definition, presentations and infographics are simply meant to be absorbed in different ways – an infographic needs to share way more content than is healthy for a visual slide.
Great presentation visuals work because they support the presenter rather than taking their place. Yes, infographics can be works of design beauty but their structure, format and copious amounts of content leaves no opportunity for a meaningful engagement with the audience. In short, when it comes to presentations, they get in the way.
But that’s not to say, they’re not a great big step in the right direction.
There are still sales presenters out there who are overloading slides with too much content and boring audiences to PowerPoint death by reading endless bullet points at them…
At least now people are looking beyond a barrage of bullet points at other options (even if they aren’t sure why).
One recent prospect (who shall remain nameless) asked us to create an infographic for his presentation because, “We want to show how much research we’ve done and how much insight we’ve got to hand – which will prompt people to buy from us”.
My palm metaphorically hit my forehead when I heard this.
Infographics should never be used as an aesthetic wrapper for a pile of complex data (especially in presentations - and definitely not in sales presentations).
When a graphic is unfocused or irrelevant, crow-barred in for the simple reason that infographics are that ‘new thing’, it’s a distraction that makes life more difficult for you. Not only do you have a tougher time but, more importantly, your audience is left confused and, in defeat, reaches for their mobile phone or laptop. You’ve lost them and the opportunity the presentation represented. What a waste.
What you should be doing
OK, so if infographics and presentations don’t belong together, what should you be doing?
If it’s great presentation graphics you want, you should review your supporting data and pull out the key messages. Use this as the basis of powerful visuals that will help you communicate your presentations overarching story with real passion.
Because when it works well, true presentation data visualisation is a thing of beauty that is a match for any infographic.
Bringing the most powerful and relevant data to life visually and presenting it in a way that engages with your audience is going to really help them logically towards the next stage of the sale.
Our advice? Spend your infographic budget on getting your presentation singing with great visuals. Your audience will appreciate the effort you’ve shown.
So yes, infographics are most definitely a step in the right direction, but if sales presentation perfection is where you want to go, then creating effective presentation visuals is the path to take.
By Simon Morton, Managing Director of Eyeful Presentations Ltd & Author of 'The Presentation Lab'. Eyeful Presentations help businesses get the best possible results from their presentation opportunities. Read more from Simon. Simon launched Eyeful Presentations in 2004, with a simple goal of creating better, more effective business presentations that would engage audiences and actually get presenters results and success. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.