Visual aids are an important part of many presentations. The most commonly used media are the flipchart and computer-based presentation programs. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your visual aids:
A flipchart mounted on a portable easel works best when used with a relatively small audience – 20 or fewer people. A flipchart can be prepared prior to your presentation. You can also write or draw during your presentation – especially to record audience responses. Use bold colors, but avoid using ink that bleeds through the paper. Don’t look at your flipchart when speaking. If you must write on the flipchart, pause, then resume speaking when you’re done. Use small strips of masking tape to facilitate changing from one page to the next.
The technology is rapidly changing. These days, using a laptop computer and presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint is the norm. Add a screen and other equipment, and you can produce and display dramatic visual aids, including animation and simulations. Computer-based visuals are becoming the standard for most technical, educational or business-related presentations. Useful for large and small audiences, they can convey simple as well as complex information. If you use a remote control, you can change the visuals while walking about the room. To accomplish this you’ll need a data projector, a device that accepts output from a computer and projects it onto a screen. Plan to create the visuals in advance, to ensure all of the electronic components work together and be sure to rehearse with them.
Keep your visual aids:
- Colorful, but don’t let them upstage you
- Justified by the content — not too many or too few slides
For effective PowerPoint shows:
- Don’t read the slides to your audience!
- Make your text large.
- Choose colors that make the text easier to read.
- Use bullet points instead of full sentences.
- Don’t let the text or graphics fly around too much.
- Avoid charts and diagrams that are hard to see.
Most Importantly – Remember, you control the presentation; don’t let it control you. PowerPoint should be a “visual aid” – not the entire show.