Presentation Feature: Visual aids

What is it?

Graphics, images or objects that support key points or additional information. Visual aids may be 2-dimensional pictures, charts, graphs, tables and/or illustrations displayed on Prezi or PowerPoint slides, or they may be 3-dimensional objects.

Why is it important?

Effective presenters know that visual aids can significantly enhance the message(s) they want to convey and that the presentation content will be remembered best if presented both verbally and visually. Presentations containing visual aids tend to be more persuasive than those that are only presented verbally. The adage, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, is true because visuals help people make sense of reality. Similarly, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ is often said because seeing helps people decide if what they hear or read is actually true. The inclusion of attractive and relevant visuals to support a speaker’s main points can also improve an audience’s opinion of the presenter, thus improving his or her confidence and delivery.

How is it done?

Effective speakers choose their visual aids after content and structure of their presentation is planned. If PowerPoint is used, a simple background with basic, attractive colours should be chosen. Clear, eye-catching images can be included but with minimal text, as words are not ‘visual’. If text is included, it should be in short bullet points rather than sentences, and large, legible fonts should be used. Visual aids should enhance a presenter’s main message(s), so they should be limited in number to maximize their impact. Effective presenters prepare early and do several full rehearsals to practise displaying their visual aids at appropriate moments throughout the talk. Repeated practice helps presenters avoid looking at their own PowerPoint too much and maintain eye contact with the audience.

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