What is presentation 'clutter'?

November 21, 2010

in Creating your visual aids

You’re going to look around a house that you’re thinking of buying. It’s a a Saturday morning.  You’re making a commitment.  You’ve given up 2 hours of your valuable time, and you’ve left the kids with Grandma.  The details of the property looked good enough, the price seemed right, and the sun is shining as you pull up outside your possible future home.

First impressions are good.  The road is lovely, wide and tree-lined.  There’s a pretty cafe with tables outside and people drinking tea, there’s the village green with ducks, and a pub, and a cricket ground where kids are playing happily on bikes and each other.  You walk up the gravelled path and notice the roses around the door, just in bloom, no traffic mars the sound of songbirds and the whispering of a spring breeze in the trees all around you tell you that all is well with the world.  You rap the brass knocker, gently, so as not to disturb anything or anybody and the door opens to a smiling face of a kindly soul who lives there now…  Then- ‘Oh my expletive God!’

You walk into the hallway and your eyes are assailed by a million impressions at once.  The carpet of crazy kaleidoscope colours, the 146 pictures on the walls, the rugs, and hangings, the dresser, armoire and long-case clock, the horse-brasses, the cats, the smell of something burning in the kitchen, the radio, the chandeliers, antimacassars, shoes, umbrella stand, coat hooks, coats, wellington boots, so much stuff.  So much stuff, in fact, that you can barely see the walls, the floor or the shape of the room.  And every room is a rococo nightmare of mix and match madness.

After 5 minutes you’ve got a headache, after 10 it’s a migraine and in 15 minutes flat, you’re back in the car, speechless with disappointment. The ‘clutter’ got in the way.  The house was hidden behind it.l  All curves and personality, interest and promise erased by ‘interference’.

In the world of selling houses, how often do we hear the professionals telling us to remove the rubbish before a viewing.  Some of us even listen to them.  Many of us though think ‘people will be able to see through a bit of mess, and make up their own minds…’  Won’t they?’

And the answer is… Maybe. My research tells me that 20% can and do, but the rest just can’t.  And honestly; why should they?  We’re selling and they are looking to buy.  How and why is it not our responsibility to do everything that we can to help the other party see the real value in the thing they’re looking at?  So if you’re wondering what you should do?  Tidy up…Now.

I know you can already see the link to presentations, so I’ll just finish with a list of things that I‘ve seen clutter up the average corporate presentation and if you’d like to go tidy up afterwards it will help you make your point much more powerfully.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey

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