After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
Identify when and how visual aids will enhance a presentation
Identify the different types of visual aids
Identify effective and ineffective use of visual aids
Apply basic design principles to slide design
Identify best practices to incorporating visual aids in a presentation
It seems nearly impossible to see a presentation that doesn’t revolve around a lengthy PowerPoint, so much so that you might think it was a requirement for giving a speech. The phrase “death by PowerPoint” was coined in response to the ubiquitous, wordy, and intellectually deadening presentations that focus on the slides rather than the content or the presenter. With the speaker reading directly from the slides, or worse, showing slides with text so small that it can’t be read, viewers are often left wondering what the need for the presentation is at all. A simple handout would convey the message and save everyone’s time. PowerPoint, however, is just one of the visual aids available to you as a speaker. Your ability to incorporate the right visual aid at the right time and in the right format can have a powerful effect on your audience. Because your message is the central focus of your speech, you only want to add visual aids that enhance your message, clarify the meaning of your words, target the emotions of your audience, and/or show what words fail to clearly describe.
A visual image is a simple thing, a picture that enters the eyes.
~ Roy H. Williams
Learning how to create effective visuals that resonate with your audience is important for a quality presentation. Understanding basic principles of how visual information is processed alone and in combination with audio information can make or break your visuals’ effectiveness and impact. Incorporating visuals into your speech that complement your words rather than stand in place of them or distract from them, will set you apart from other presenters, increase your credibility, and make a bigger and more memorable impact on your audience.