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Understanding the benefits of using visuals in your presentation

Introduction

The use of visual aids, coupled with good public speaking skills, work hand-in-hand to create effective presentations. Your speaking style and stage presence are personal talents that you can refine with much practice and experience.

Each aspect of effective presentations, however, could not be detailed in this discussion. Instead, much emphasis is given to visual aids which are essential to all successful presentations.

Establishing your objectives, planning and organizing your material, and using appropriate visual aids are the essential ingredients. The recipe for effective presentations calls for all three ingredients, and you must use them in the order in which they are presented here.

By establishing your objectives first, you can prepare material that supports each objective. The use of visual aids will move you further along toward your objectives by illustrating and emphasizing your ideas more effectively than words alone.

Let's begin, then, at the beginning: As you start to design your presentation, you must ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish by making this presentation? It is these objectives that drive your presentation and move the audience to your end goals. Your end goals may be that the attendees take a particular action, adopt a new perspective, or respond to facts and information.

Establishing these goals requires careful planning. The key to designing your presentation is determining these objectives. After all, they become the foundation upon which your content, organization, and visual aids are built.

Establishing the objectives for your presentation requires an analysis of your own goals, as well as your audience's needs and expectations.

  • Use them to clarify your title or to record your key points as you introduce your presentation this will give you a fixed list to help you recap as you go along;
  • Think of using visual aids for the following reasons;
  • Therefore, they require more time and money to produce than overhead transparencies;
  • You must evaluate the appropriateness of the visual aids.

By considering the nature of your audience, you can more easily determine what you will present and how you will present it. An audience analysis will enable you to: Select appropriate points of emphasis in your presentation Develop a useful level of detail Choose and prepare appropriate visual aids Create a tone that is sensitive to your audience's circumstance Your presentation will ideally form a bridge between something you have and your audience wants.

Let the audience analysis influence the form of information presented so you can create this bridge. Planning and Organizing Your Material When you have determined the characteristics of your audience, then you are ready to plan and organize your material.

The tips listed below will assist you in tailoring your approach accordingly. Keep in mind that the use of visual aids will help to produce effective one-way or two-way communication. Many factors are involved in choosing these visual aids, and the type of interaction you want to develop with the audience will influence your choice. Planning Your Material Do not wait to prepare your presentation while on you way to the training session. You cannot do your best at presenting or persuading by "winging it.

Limit content to your major point and no more than five key supporting points. Prepare your content considering such things as whether they are likely to be friendly or unfriendly, lay or technical in their background, and whether they want only to listen or to respond and contribute. Select appropriate visual aids and a presentation style that will be effective in the physical setting for your training session.

Organizing Your Material When organizing your material, consider an "old chestnut" of public speaking - "Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; tell 'em; and tell 'em what you told 'em. Recognizes the importance of reinforcement in adult learning Completes the communication for the listener Informs people who arrive late of what they missed Recognizes the importance of organization, highlighting, and summarizing main points for the audience Serves to clarify main themes for the audience at the end of the presentation Using Visual Aids Visual aids help your presentation make things happen.

Visual aids help you reach your objectives by providing emphasis to whatever is being said. Clear pictures multiply the audience's level of understanding of the material presented, and they should be used to reinforce your message, clarify points, and create excitement.

Visual aids involve your audience and require a change from one activity to another: When you use visual aids, their use tends to encourage gestures and movement on your part.

  1. Use and vary the color. In both cases, a damp tissue can be used to wipe information off a transparency that has been marked with water-soluble ink.
  2. Slides require a great deal of preparation and rehearsal.
  3. The use of visual aids will move you further along toward your objectives by illustrating and emphasizing your ideas more effectively than words alone. Consider how you can express yourself visually, providing common references, illustrations, and images that lead the audience to understand your point or issue.

This extra movement reinforces the control that you, the speaker, need over the presentation. The use of visual aids, then, are mutually beneficial to the audience and you.

Using visual aids

Visual aids add impact and interest to a presentation. They enable you to appeal to more than one sense at the same time, thereby increasing the audience's understanding and retention level. With pictures, the concepts or ideas you present are no longer simply words - but words plus images. The chart below cites the effectiveness of visual aids on audience retention.

People tend to eye-minded, and the impacts visual aids bring to a presentation are, indeed, significant. The studies, below, reveal interesting statistics that support these findings: In many studies, experimental psychologists and educators have found that retention of information three days after a meeting or other event is six times greater when information is presented by visual and oral means than when the information is presented by the spoken word alone. The use of visual aids, then, is essential to all presentations.

  • Video Video gives you a chance to show stimulating visual information;
  • If you are using computer-generated slides, try them out in a practice setting, not just on your computer screen;
  • Slide programs are easy to package in slide trays;
  • Bar graphs can effectively show trends or patterns in data as well;
  • It also helps ensure that you are following fair use guidelines by presenting the media with your commentary, interpretation, or analysis.

Without them, the impact of your presentation may leave the audience shortly after the audience leaves you. By preparing a presentation with visual aids that reinforce your main ideas, you will reach your audience far more effectively, and, perhaps, continue to "touch" them long after the presentation ends. It is critical that you prepare visual aids that reinforce your major points, stimulate your audience, and work well in the physical setting of your presentation.

Visual aids and audio-visuals include a wide variety of communication products, including flip charts, overhead transparencies, slides, audio-slide shows, and video tapes. Demonstrating a process or simply passing around a sample of some equipment or model are also effective way to clarify messages visually.

If visual aids are poorly selected or inadequately done, they will distract from what you are saying. The tips listed below will help you in the selection and preparation of visual aids.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Visual Communication

Tips on Preparing Visual Aids Start with at least a rough outline of the goal and major points of the presentation before selecting the visual aid s. For example, a particular scene or slides may trigger ideas for the presentation, providing the power of images.

Do not proceed too far without first determining what you want to accomplish, what your audience wants to gain, and what the physical setting requires. Each element of an audio-visual product - a single slide or a page of a flip chart presentation, for example, - must be simple and contain only one message.

Placing more than one message on a single image confuses the audience and diminishes the potential impact of visual media. Determine the difference between what you will say and what the visual aid will show. Do not read straight from your visuals. Ask the audience to read or listen, not both; visual aids should not provide reading material while you talk.

Rather, use them to illustrate or highlight your points. Give participants paper copies of various graphic aids used in your presentation. They will be able to write on the paper copies and have them for future reference. Assess your cost constraints. An overhead transparency presentation can always be used in a formal environment if 35 mm slides are too expensive. Account for production time in your planning and selection process. Slides must be developed, videotape edited - you do not want to back yourself against a wall because the visuals are not ready.

You can often get production work done in 24-48 hours, but it is much more expensive than work that is done on an extended schedule.

Use local photographs and examples when discussing general problems and issues. While a general problem concerning welding safety, for example, may elude someone, illustrating with a system in use at the site can bring the issue home. Use charts and graphs to support the presentation of numerical information.

Develop sketches and drawings to convey various designs and plans. When preparing graphics, make sure they are not too crowded in detail. Do no over-use color. See that line detail, letters, and symbols are bold enough to be seen from the back of the room. Do not use visual aids for persuasive statements, qualifying remarks, emotional understanding the benefits of using visuals in your presentation, or any type of rhetorical statement.

If you have handouts, don't let them become a distraction during the presentation. They should provide reinforcement following your address. Consider giving them out after the presentation, unless the audience will use them during the presentation or will need to review them in advance of the presentation.

Practice presenting the full program using graphic materials so you are familiar with their use and order. If you use audio-visual materials, practice working with them and the equipment to get the timing down right.

Seek feedback on the clarity of your visuals and do so early enough to allow yourself time to make needed adjustments. The question of what to use and how to choose is an excellent one. The next several pages will help you answer this question by identifying the advantages and limitations of each type of visual, as well as the development techniques required in preparing each. By looking at these pros and cons, you can more easily decide what will work best for your presentation.

Flip Charts Flip charts are quick, inexpensive visual aids for briefing small groups. Help the speaker proceed through the material Convey information Provide the audience with something to look at in addition to the speaker Can be prepared prior to, as well as during, the presentation Demonstrate that the speaker has given thought to his or her remarks Can be used to record audience questions and comments Can be converted to slides Limitations: May require the use of graphics talent Are not suitable for use in a large audience setting May be difficult to transport When Developing Flip Charts: Each sheet of paper should contain one idea, sketch, or theme.

Words, charts, diagrams, and other symbols must be penned in a large enough size to be seen by people farthest from the speaker. For example, a 1-inch letter is legible from 32 feet, and a 2-inch letter from 64 feet. Divide the distance from the back of the room to the visual by 32 to determine the minimum size of letters.

Use block lettering, since it is easiest to read. Use all capital letters, and do not slant or italicize letters. Use and vary the color. Also, check from a distance to make sure the color works well and is not distracting.

Overhead Transparencies Overhead transparencies are useful for audience settings of 20 to 50 people and can be produced quickly, easily, and inexpensively. Any camera-ready artwork, whether word charts, illustrations, or diagrams can be made into transparencies using standard office paper copiers.

Most manufacturers of paper copiers offer clear and colored acetate sheets that run through copying machines like paper, but transfer a black image into acetate for use as overhead transparencies.