Idea in short

Every presentation is a dialogue with your audience. But, how many times have you faced a presentation cluttered with too much text? Text-heavy presentations dramatically reduce the quality of communication with your audience. They will, most likely, get distracted within the first 5 minutes.

People remember & retain information longer when you visualize the information, say using icons. This effect, called The Picture Superiority Effect refers to the phenomenon in which pictures and images are more likely to be remembered than words. This effect is based on the notion that

human memory is extremely sensitive to the symbolic modality of presentation of event information

Picture-Superiority-Effect

Infographics work so well because using text and images together helps people to retain the information. Remember, if it’s just words, people will only remember 10% of the information they read. But if you combine the text with a relevant image, they are likely remembering 65% of the information! While others may choose to work harder by crafting a perfectly written article or advertisement, it would be a smarter choice to use text and relevant images together

– Randy Krum, author of the book “Cool Infographics

Icons

Today, one of the most powerful tools available to everybody working with presentations is icons. One of the objectives of iconography is to help people absorb, retain and process your message more efficiently. To this end, icons are effective & powerful ways to visualize abstract concepts & ideas. When implemented well, they enrich minimal content by empowering key points without verbosity. They also help draw attention to your key message & content. Because they are universal, icons serve as aids to enhance your message. Icons also come in handy for highlighting interesting findings & ideas within your presentation. Since they have the power to attract attention, they should be placed after much diligence & reflection.

Icons also enhance readability of a deck. However, you should consider who your audience or client is. Some clients view icons in presentations as something too childish. Nevertheless, icons could make the most complex message understandable & further sharpen the clearest message to something more minimal & clean. Icons also work well in simplifying concepts and processes.

Visual Face-lift-1Visual Face-lift-2

PowerPoint vector icons

PowerPoint vector icons are graphic symbols that refer to objects or actual actions. You can use these icons instead of words because they are more intuitive. However, the icons are not always the best way to represent the data. They work well only when the relationship between the icon and its meaning is automatic and independent from learning. In other words, it is necessary that the icon evokes its meaning implicitly, without interpretation from the user. For this reason, the most functional icons are those that more concretely represent the object or the action to which they relate. If icons use the natural mapping between the action & the visual representation, you can minimize the user’s interpretative effort & facilitate information absorption.

An example of a natural mapping applied to icons is the trash symbol. In this case, the trash icon indicates the action to delete a file. The metaphor fully performs its task and you understand intuitively what action it may make. On eCommerce sites, a much-used metaphor is the shopping basket: it allows, usually, to immediately understand what is that icon. But, to make metaphors work, their meaning must be highly shared. Text labels are necessary when an understanding of an icon is not based on a previous experience, to communicate the meaning, reduce the ambiguity and improve the user experience.

PowerPoint vector icons can also help simplify a complex flowchart or workflow diagram. This helps stakeholders easily get an overview & understand the chart much quicker than by just using text.

Icon fonts

Icon fonts are fonts that contain symbols and glyphs instead of letters or numbers. Primarily developed for web use, they are small text files that can be modified using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Consequently, they scale much better than images, so changing the size of an icon font doesn’t degrade its visual quality. Changing the color or adding a shadow is just as simple as editing text.

Icon resources

Here are some websites where you can find PowerPoint & image icons for your presentations:

Summary

The use of icons not only will improve the visual appeal of the presentation, but will also support your content. As a closing argument, I encourage you to start using icons in your presentations. Every time you feel the amount of wording is excessive or that your speech can be summarized in a simple visual, that means is a good moment to think of a suitable icon.