How to use sound, video and images to make vivid presentations

 In Message creation

‘If we do these things, we won’t end up like this’

A number of years ago, at one of my client’s off-site conferences, I was in the audience during the Managing Director’s opening keynote presentation.

During the presentation the MD said ‘If we do these things, we won’t end up like this’ – while displaying on the presentation screen, a carcass on a butchers block with a chef’s knife lodged in it.

A graphic image for sure.

The MD’s purpose in using the image was to instill in the audience, that if the they acted on the strategies and tactics he had just outlined, the company wouldn’t end up a carcass.

I mention this vignette because although that presentation was over eight years ago, the image and the message are still vivid in my my mind.

I’m not suggesting that you use necessarily use graphic images in your presentations.

Rather, in line with this months theme of producing powerful vivid images in the mind, I suggest you take the time to consider what images, video clips and other techniques, could make your presentations and their key messages – stick longer in the minds of your audiences.

Below are practical ways to make your presentations vivid.


For any presentation. consider what image or video clip would align with one of your key messages/points. One way to do this is to put the message or presentation title, topic into the search bar any of these free image libraries.

Pixabay, Visual Hunt, Free Range

and see what you can find.

As well, put your key message/topic in Google and then click on the Images tab,

By the way, in a presentation what do you think makes a point more memorable – an image or a story?*

Video clips

Put your topic/key message and YouTube in your search engine.

For example, if your topic was Productivity, enter ‘Productivity YouTube’ in your search engine. A while ago I did this. The first item on page one was the following 3:15 clip, The Science of Productivityproduced by Gregory Ciotti of Sparring Mind.

If the clip you intend to use runs beyond 60 seconds, I suggest you consider only playing a certain section of it. A faux pax many presenters make when playing video clips, is that they are too long, and audience attention wanes.

For example, in the above clip, in the first 60 seconds, the narrator speaks about the topic of ‘Getting Started’. If this topic was a key point or message for your presentation, you’d stop the clip after that section. (Be sure to always quote the author of the clip).

I suggest.

a good mean time for playing video clips is 40 seconds.

Sound clips

There are many ways you can use sound to make your presentations vivid. Here are some examples:

For certain presentations, play entry music 10-15 minutes before and during the arrival of  the audience. Get feedback on your choice of music so that it sets the right tone you want to achieve.

Optimally choose music that gets you in the ‘zone’ to deliver the presentation and that creates a lively atmosphere in the room.

Some presentations – for example, boardroom presentations – are inappropriate for using music. However, for large scale presentations or training programme, a room without music can feel ‘dead’.

A cycle of three songs I play at my events before and as audience enters are Cold Play’s Viva La VidaAvicii’s Wake me up and Nico & Vinz’s Am I wrong).

For longer presentations (1.5 hours for example) mid way through the presentation, I play a song while I get the audience to change seats. In the past I’ve used Little River Band’s Cool Change.

You can also use spoken sound clips. For example, play clips of luminaries speaking.

At one my workshops, I play the opening to Barack Obama’s opening to his 2008 U.S. presidential acceptance speech.

If you only have the audio recording of a person, to add impact, display the person’s image on the screen while the audio plays.


For large group presentations the optimal way to set up the lighting is as follows:

Full flood/wash lighting on the stage and on you the presenter.

Dimmed lighting around the presentation screen.

Full house lights.

Full house lights allow you see the audience, and make a physical connection with them, as well as perceiving how they are reacting to your presentation.

Unfortunately, some speakers and/or presentation organisers dim the house lights, making it difficult for the presenter to see the audience. They mistakenly believe that an audience for a presentation should be treated similarly to an audience in a movie theatre. Dimmed house lights will cause your audience’s attention to wander.

Some venues do not have the facilities for the above lighting set-up. If the lights in the presentation screen area can’t be dimmed without the houselights being dimmed, aim to have lighting where both the screen and audience can be easily seen (even if the definition of the images on the screen is not optimal).

Own the Conversation

In the next seven days decide on one fresh image, video or sound technique you could trial in your next presentation.

*All things being equal, an image make the point more memorable.

p.s. Check out this post entitled Pitch with a memorable prop.

‘Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.’ Chuck Close

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