Presentations using visual aids were found to be
43% MORE PERSUASIVE
than unaided presentations.Researchers from the Management Information Systems Research Center at theUniversity of Minnesota and at 3M Corporation set out to explore how the use of visual supportby a presenter affects the persuasiveness of a presentation. Although there have been manyclaims made regarding how presentations are improved by visual support, there is little empiricalevidence to back up the claims. The study conducted in 1981 at the Wharton School of theUniversity of Pennsylvania is the one empirical study that is often cited, but frequently the claimsexceed the study’s explanatory capabilities. To go beyond the Wharton Study, the combinedUM/3M team sought to lay the basis for a program of research which will fully explore the useof visual aids in support of a presentation which has audience persuasion as its purpose.To accomplish this goal we designed a
which can support subsequentwork to further probe the subject of audience persuasion. It was our intention that the baselinestudy be
conducted in a rigorous manner
in order that our results can bereplicated and defensible to both the research and practitioner communities. The baseline study,which is reported upon here, involved an attempt to persuade people to commit their time andmoney to attending seminars on time management. Presentations supported by avariety of visual support (use of color vs. black and white; use of plain textual visuals vs. those enhancedwith “clip art” and graphs; and visuals on overhead transparencies vs. on 35mm slides) werecompared to a presentation with no visual support. Overall, the presentations using visualsupport were 43% more persuasive.