How to Prepare a Presentation – Part 5 of 7



When you create and display visual aids during an oral presentation, there are a few general principles that you should follow.

Keep it simple

Use color, but not too much
Color accelerates learning and recall by 55% or more and comprehension by 70% (Dodd, 1997). But too much color can be distracting.

Break complex ideas into simpler visual parts
If you plan to show a complex idea visually, break the image into smaller, less complicated parts. An overlay is a possible option.

Show = Discuss
Do not show anything that you don’t plan to discuss. Explain what’s in each graphic.

Do not talk at your visual aid
Direct your presentation toward the audience and refer to your images with a pointer or pen.

Steady hands
If you’re hands are shaky, a pointer, pen, or pencil will help steady you.

You can use the following options, but beware of the problems associated with each:

Overheads are simple and clear, and you don’t have to depend on a computer. They can, however, get out of order, have poor print quality, and cause other problems if the transition between each one is not smooth. If you are able, have someone else be responsible for turning your overheads during your presentation, so you can concentrate on speaking and directing the overall presentation.

PowerPoint or similar slide-show software programs can produce professional-looking presentations. You can store your presentation on a disk and carry it with you, and it’s also easy to make changes to your presentation.

However, using such software does force dependence on computer technology, and if the computer crashes, or if there are other technology problems, you won’t have your slide-show. Therefore, when you use such software, always have available alternative visuals such as overheads or paper handouts.

Slides give you clear images of photographs and also allow for easy change in the order of your presentation. However, they can be expensive, and you can’t change the images once they’re created.

Whiteboards and paper are convenient if you feel comfortable writing your points in front of the audience. They also let you be spontaneous and incorporate feedback from the audience. However, they don’t look as professional as other media, and they force you to spend a lot of time writing when you should be talking (often with your back to the audience).

Handouts are an excellent accompaniment to any of the options listed above, but they can also pose their own problems. If you distribute them at the beginning of your presentation, you risk losing your audience’s attention; their attention may turn to the handout rather than following what you are saying.

Nevertheless, having the audience follow along with the handout can be a successful strategy. You can also pass out a summary of your speech that the audience can take away with them. A final option is to pass out handouts to support the information you bring up as you talk. However, this can also deflect attention away from you, and cause the audience to miss pertinent points. Be sparing with handouts, but understand that they can be instrumental in helping the audience remember your speech.

In conclusion, the above information is for those who are really attached to using aids.  I prefer imagination and interaction.  The fewer aids the more connected the audience is to me and the less distracted they are by some aid.  I am, however, aware that people have different ways of remembering information, visually, oral, etc.  So keeping all this in mind, remember that your natural, authentic, connected voice is the best advertisement you have for your interest in the audience.  It’s then that they are willing to listen – when they know you care about them.

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