Scientific slide decks, mostly implemented in PowerPoint, play many important roles in medical affairs:
- Tools for self-study to be sent to KOLs and other stakeholders
- Tools to support talks with HCPs
- Presentation aids for a trainer or speaker
- Self-directed learning tools for trainees
Unfortunately, too many slide decks contain slides like these:
This leads to boring presentations, bored audiences, and lackluster learning and training results with potential economic consequences.
The power of visual storytelling
A slide deck can offer an incredibly powerful and simple tool to reach a diverse audience if developed in accordance with the principles of visual storytelling. Visual storytelling is the use of images to construct a narrative.
But why is visual storytelling important for a slide deck? The answer is in our DNA.
Homo sapiens is a narrative species. We have an innate capacity for telling, understanding, and remembering stories. It’s how our primordial ancestors avoided danger, formed bonds with one another, and handed down knowledge, experience, and culture from one generation to the next.
This is why we can remember the plot of a movie we haven’t seen in years whereas a data table or a list of facts can be forgotten in seconds.
While these stories have been told in speech and later in writing, they have also been imparted throughout the ages using images—whether painted on the wall of a cave, chiseled into slabs of sandstone, or painted on the ceiling of a cathedral.
In our time, photography, cinema, and television have left most adults well-equipped to interpret images and the complex network of relationships between images that appear in film.
Converting text, data, and facts into a visual story takes into consideration this instinct for narrative and relies on our intuition for interpreting images.