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training theory


We are changing our presentations and I have been requested to remove the pictures from our training powerpoints. Anyone recommend any theory I can quote for justification of use of visuals. Help please
Judith Dudley

16 Responses

  1. Slides

    You can quote the NLP stuff which involved how people learn either through hearing, sight or touch. Some people who learn through sight may be assisted in remembering the material through the pretty pictures on a Powerpoint slide rather than the words. I would look up this technique for learning then you will have your ammunition!

    Sandra Beale FCIPD

  2. Accelerated learning
    the priciples of Accelerated Learning support the use of visuals and posters.
    “A picture paints a thousand words”

  3. Pictures in presentations
    There is a lot of info around about left and right brain activity which supports your theory. Check out

    Also, Tony Buzan recommends liberal use of pictures and colour when using mind maps

    If your company is adamant that they should be removed, you could incorporate pictures in other ways. I get delegates, in groups of 3 or 4, to draw a team picture at the end of an event to demonstrate their main learning from the day. It can also be a way of exlporing people’s feelings about a subject by getting them to answer questions in pictures rather than words

    Good luck!

    Sue Beatt

  4. Can we see the pictures?
    There must be a good reason for the instruction to remove the pictures. It may not be a demand to remove pitures, but just the ones you have selected.

  5. Theories generally support visual information to aid learning
    It could be argued that removal of PowerPoint images will discriminate against those whose learning style is predominantly visual, unless alternative arrangements are made to provide access to relevant visual information. This is supported by Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theories (especially spatial-visual intelligence type) and theories in relation to visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK) learning styles. See .

    Also, Edgar Dale’s “cone of experience” theory suggests that “visual receiving” can aid learning by improving remembering and by making abstract ideas more concrete. See's%20cone.jpg (from

    A picture is worth a thousand words. There is some scientific evidence for this: .

  6. Recommended Reading on Graphics for Learning
    I was going to ask the question posed by Mike Roberts: Why have you been asked to remove the pictures?

    But secondly, here is a book I’d recommend:

    Graphics for Learning: Proven Guidelines for Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Visuals in Training Materials
    Ruth Colvin Clark, Chopeta Lyons
    ISBN: 0-7879-6994-X
    544 pages
    June 2004, Pfeiffer

    The content for this book has been based on a lot of research (in particular that by Richard E Mayer). The book picks up on the fact that sometimes we’re asked to remove graphics because they didn’t add anything to the presentation/training content. Or worse still, distracted people from learning.

    It shows how you can develop meaningful graphics that are proven to aid learning and retention.

  7. Picture Piants a Thousand Words

    Ask whoever is requiring you to remove the pictures to give you verbal directions to some landmark. Then get them to draw a map, you could do it the other way by giving them verbal directions than drawing a map. Ask which do they prefer. That should prove the point on the use of pictures. All the theory is very good, but a tutors job is at times to prove/demonstrate the most obvious.

  8. How do we Learn
    The Trainer must always remember “How do we Learn”
    CONFUCIUS 559_479 BC

  9. What is this about?
    It is an odd request to remove the visuals from a presentation. Would it be worth finding out what is behind this before doing anything about it, or even arguing?

    This could be a response to the particular visuals, a comment by one senior person, an indirect criticism of the programme etc etc.

    Just try being deliberately “naive” ( a very powerful approach!) and ask the people making the request “why?” and listen to the answers. This will help you decide what to do.

    There is more on this simple way to influence people on

    I agree with the other respondents that visual images help communication. However, the real issue is not the truth or otherwise of this, but how you influence the people who want it changed.

    I hope this helps.

    Best wishes

  10. Are they relevant?
    I have sat through many presentations where the pictures are purely ornament and not relevant to the presentation. The attention is then taken away from the point you are trying to make. Are we talking about “pictures” or about graphics etc. that add to the understanding?

  11. Drawing People In
    Hi Judith,

    I think you might find it useful to read my article, ‘Drawing People In’. It was published on TrainingZone last month. You can find it by putting my name, Martin Shovel, in the TrainingZone search box. If you have any problems locating it, contact me by email and I’ll send you a copy.

    You can also sign up for my free monthly newsletter on visual thinking and creativity by visiting

    Good luck!

  12. One for the other viewpoint

    Despite the endless litany to the contrary here, I remain unconvinced that visuals are an essential to succesful training.

    Before getting carried away with how powerful visuals can be for some people (a large number of people) it could be simpler to enable your delegates to create their own “pictures”, “notes” etc. than to embark on creating them for them.

    I have trained mixed groups for years, to examination standards. I have yet to use pictures in any of my training material – I have no artistic talent, I find clip art annoying and don’t want to spend my time worrying about copyright.

    I do occasionally scrawl diagrams on flip chart paper and let my delegates interpret them as they like but I don’t put pictures in presentations.

    In my last hands on training role – I managed to train a large number of delegates on an examined course with a 100% pass rate. I don’t think they missed the pictures at all.

    Just because a hundred people believe something to be an essential, it’s not necessarily the truth.

    Let them go – it’ll take less time to update your material and then you can concentrate on conveying the material in more creative ways to effect more effective learning.

  13. Stand your ground!

    It would have been helpful if you had explained why you were asked to remove the pictures, as you question is open to interpretation.

    Would a picture have been of any use here? – I think not. Therefore, if a picture or graphic is required to assist in putting over a principle, concept or visual representation then a picture/graphic is required.

    If you are confident that you have selected appropriate visuals (for whatever purpose) I would suggest that you stand your ground (if politics is not an issue). Alternatively, produce a sample presentation (without any visuals) and send it to your peers, in draft format, asking for suggestions or areas of improvement. I would guess that if visuals are required the feedback would demonstrate this.

    Kind regards,


  14. Opposite problem
    I once had a client who wanted all the words removed from a presentation. I think his reasoning was that if you’re using a visual medium it should be visual, and words aren’t.

  15. It’s a matter of perception
    Depending upon what the aims of the presentation are and the subject matter, I personally would be EXTREMELY selective about any ‘pictorial images I use in presentations.

    This is particularly true where the subject matter is intended to be objective and balanced.

    One danger of using images to convey meanings, is that those meanings are yours, not the viewers. In other words, you can be seen to be subtley (or not) influencing peoples thoughts though pictures through perceptual ambiguity.

    Remember do you see the ‘Old woman’ or the ‘Young lady’?


    I would be inclined to clarify the rationale with the requestor.

    kind regards


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