Visual Aids

January 5, 2010

Visual aids should be exactly that; something to look at that helps to get your message across.  Something the audience can look at, something that engages an additional one of their senses.  They may be slides, computer generated graphics, they may be objects you can hold and touch.  Anything that adds more to your presentation and that helps to get your message across.

Visual aids should not be a constant stream of bullet points, which people can read instead of listening to what you are saying. It is doubtful that people can both listen to you and read your bullets at the same time. All a screen full of bullet points does is enable the audience to get ahead of you, they don’t add any value to your presentation.

If you are prone to creating presentations full of bullet points then after you have finished creating all this bullet point slides, go back through them one by one and ask yourself ‘How could I convey that information using pictures?’  Some people will find this much easier than others will.  Luckily, with the Internet you are now no longer constrained to using clip art.  Search the net for photographs and images, which can help you to convey your message.  You may end up with more slides but you will also have a more interesting presentation.

You need to be careful that you do not infringe any one’s copyright.  But there are thousands of copyright free images and libraries of images that you can purchase the rights to use.

Once you have replaced the bullet points with images, do not throw away the bullets put them on to your cue cards so they remind you what you are going to say while the image is being displayed.

There are people who dislike PowerPoint (or similar software) presentations. Personally I am not anti-PowerPoint, I think that showing a good visual aid while you are talking helps to convey your message and can make it more memorable. The key part of that last sentence was the “good visual aid”. Showing a set of bullet points while you talk is a very poor presentation style.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever