If you walk on the Boston Common this Memorial Day weekend, you will see the 37,000 American flags lined up there, one for each fallen Massachusetts serviceman or woman. It’s humbling to look at the vastness of the field of flags and realize the actual price of freedom. As the daughter of two military veterans, I am grateful for all of the sacrifices, large and small, that were made to ensure my safety, security, and freedoms.

But I also see a lesson in the power of graphics. The number (37,000) is made much more memorable, with added impact, when that number is enumerated by flags. The visual has power and often stops tourists in their tracks. So it’s fair to ask – how can we apply this our presentations? How can we make our messages more visual, with more stopping power? How can we move from straight numbers to visuals that tell the story more powerfully than words?

First suggestion – avoid the clip art. These graphics are often not specific enough for our presentation points, and in many cases, the audience has seen them before. Look for ways to replace words in a more meaningful way. If you have photos of real people with real stories, start there when looking for graphic elements to improve your presentation.

Secondly, edit your slides so that the main points and graphics are alone on the screen – this will make them more memorable and less likely to be glossed over.

Lastly, be a little creative – and have a little fun. Don’t veto ideas just because you have never seen it done before in a presentation. Think about your audience, and ask – will this visual make my point stand out? Keep the flags in mind and shoot for being more memorable.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!