Tips for using visual aids during a presentation

February 17, 2011

Allen Klein once said, “It has been said that 80 percent of what people learn is visual.” And when it comes to giving a presentation, visual aids are a powerful ally to have on your side. In fact, these days visual aids are pretty much expected to accompany any presentation.

Visual aids add an extra, powerful dimension to presentations. Studies have shown that people retain information 55 percent longer when it is combined with sight and sound, which means visual aids can make a presentation twice as effective.

How you employ your visual aids during a presentation is just as critical as using them. To help ensure your next presentation is a success, check out a few tips.

Use only when necessary. Overloading your audience with too many graphs, charts, images, videos and sound bites will turn out to be a far greater distraction than benefit. Keep the information you present visually streamlined. Visual aids should accent your presentation, not dominate it.

Choose the right visual aid. There are many different kinds of visual aids out there, and just as many methods to display them. Selecting the right one is a crucial step in your preparation. Consider the size of your audience, the venue and how interactive you want the presentation to be. Visual aids and presentation styles that work for one group might not be right for another.

Practice using your aids. In order for your presentation to go off without a hitch, you need to know how to operate your visual aids efficiently. Stumbling about while trying to move forward in a slideshow or boot up an image or video will hurt your presentation — not to mention waste your audience’s time. Practice using your materials in advance.

Use quality visual aids. Grainy pictures, blurry video or scratchy audio won’t make a very big splash during your presentation. The media you use to accompany your presentation needs to “pop” if you want the presentation itself to do the same. Also, avoid using clip art. Clip art was acceptable back in the 1990s, but nowadays it simply will not cut it.

Have a backup plan. Be ready for anything, especially when electronic devices are involved. If the bulk of your presentation relies on your visual aids, and you find yourself in a situation where the computer is being uncooperative, the projector has burnt out or power is lost, you will need to have a contingency plan. We recommend creating hard copies of your presentation to pass out just in case.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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