Visualizing the world. Ratna Shrestha from VSO Nepal, on the power of pictures over words.

VSO Nepal

Every day (sometimes without realising it), people present ideas, views and facts about their lives. Only a limited number of interesting and logically prepared presentations are actually absorbed, or listened to seriously. In my opinion, having compelling presentation skills is an art form in itself. Learning these skills can be done in a variety of different ways to ensure people listen to what you are saying and indeed, care.

On July 4th, 2017, I participated in a Capacity Development Workshop organized by What Works consortium. Among the many interesting sessions, I was introduced to one called Data Visualizing: Transforming Words into Visuals, which provided insightful ideas on ways to present our research findings.

Firstly, we worked on developing key messages from our research findings, which formed the basis of preparation for our presentation. Secondly, we were asked to prepare a presentation on sticky notes (assuming it as a slide in PowerPoint presentation) so that we could easily shuffle them around following our group discussion. Finally, we were asked to select three slides to present our baseline findings. From our One Community One Family project in Nepal, it was quite challenging, but with our team effort we were successful in presenting our work to the wider audience in just three slides!

I have done many presentations in the past, but often ended up with far too much text and less visuals. By visuals I mean action-oriented photos, powerful quotes from primary actors, policy makers and others, and diagrams of the research findings – these are the strong visual tools which help to give presentations more weight. It’s not because I am not aware that power point slide should have less text but because of lack of visualizing skills to make the slide more attractive and effective, I could not see how to do it. I learnt from this session, that the important thing is the power of a more visual slide, with less text, one which has clear key messages. I also learnt the importance of practicing before your presentation day and rehearsing timings. Therefore, keeping the presentation to the point, complete within the timeframe and speaking through images with less text are key tips that all power point presenters should bear in mind while preparing their presentation.

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