Presenting with Sensory Enhancements



The Do’s of Using Visual Aids

Visual aids should be easily understood, aesthetically pleasing, easy to move, easily seen and heard, and act as a supplement to the speech.

Learning Objectives

List best practices for presenting visual aids in a speech

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Presentation aids must be easily understood by the audience. Graphic elements should be large enough to be easily seen and/or read.
  • Presentation aids must be easy to transport. In addition, you should make sure you know to use presentation equipment ahead of time.
  • The design of your presentation should not detract from the content of your speech.
  • Consider whether you can understand if each visual aid is addressing and furthering the key point of your presentation.
  • Visual aids are useful to help the audience better understand your topic if they are used as a supplement to your presentation.

Key Terms

  • extraneous: Not essential or intrinsic.
  • verbatim: A word-for-word report of a speech.

Visual aids are essential to helping your audience better understand the key points of your presentation. Visual aids will also help to improve the attention span of audience members during the presentation. However, it is important that presenters use visual aids in a manner that does not distract from the overall presentation. An effective visual aid will include the following attributes:

  • Easily seen or heard by the audience
  • Easily handled
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Easy to understand the key point
  • Act as a supplement to the speaker’s message and not a replacement

Easily Seen or Heard by the Audience

Presentation aids must be easily understood by the audience, even those sitting at the very back of the room. Graphic elements in presentation aids must be large enough to be easily seen and/or read. Similarly, audio elements must be loud enough to hear.

Easily Handled

Your presentation aids should be easy to transport. In addition, you should make sure you know how to use presentation equipment ahead of time. You should seamlessly incorporate presentation aids into your speech. You don’t want your audience to be distracted by these elements.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Your visual aids should not detract from the content of your speech. Keep your presentation simple so people can focus on the content rather than the aesthetics. The decisions you make when you design your visual aids should be very deliberate. If you add color to a visual aid, for example, use it for a clear purpose.

An audience views a PowerPoint presentation.

PowerPoint Presentation: The audience should be able to quickly understand the key point of each slide in a PowerPoint presentation.

Easy to Understand the Key Point

If your PowerPoint slides or handouts have too much extraneous information, then the audience may not be able to understand the takeaway message of the presentation. A way to test if your visual aids are addressing the key point is to ask someone who is unfamiliar with your presentation if they can understand what the key point is. If they cannot determine the key point, it may be a good idea to revise your visual aids to include less non-essential information.

Supplement not Replace, the Presentation

Visual aids are useful to help the audience better understand your topic if they are used as a supplement to, and not a replacement for, your presentation. For example, a visual aid that replaces a presentation could be a PowerPoint that includes big blocks of text that the presenter reads verbatim. While this will be an accurate presentation, it will likely bore the audience members who will not gain much from the presentation. However, if the visual aid acts as a supplement, it will enhance the audience member’s understanding through diagrams, graphs, charts, and summaries.

The Don’ts of Using Visual Aids

Some “don’ts” of visual aids include inconsistent themes, small fonts, too much information, and distracting noises and animation.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the missteps presenters should avoid when using visual aids

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • If your visual aid has inconsistencies in color scheme or theme, the audience may become confused since color change may indicate a change in topic.
  • Avoiding small font is essential to making sure that the audience can read your visual aids. A general standard is to make sure that all PowerPoint slides are at least 18-point font to ensure that audience members in the back row will be able to read your presentation.
  • Try to keep the amount of information on each slide to a minimum and use only what is necessary to convey the key point of the visual aid or slide.
  • Avoid distracting animation and noises. These will take the focus of the audience away from your presentation and shift it toward the noise or animation instead.

Key Terms

  • Detract: Take away the value of.

Visual aids can be effective at enhancing your presentation and helping the audience better understand the key points of your presentation. However, if visual aids do not help your message or are too confusing, they may actually detract from the presentation and hinder understanding. Some key “don’ts” of using visual aids include:

  • Inconsistency in color scheme or theme
  • Small or complicated font or overwhelming text or graphics
  • Too much information or too many slides
  • Distracting animation or noises

Inconsistency in Color Scheme or Theme

If your visual aid has inconsistencies in color scheme or theme, the audience may become confused since color change may indicate a change in topic. Consistency in theme and color will help coordinate all of the information in your presentation and will help the audience understand the topics in relation to one another. There are a number of default themes that Microsoft PowerPoint offers that can help unify your color scheme and theme.

Small or Complicated Font or Overwhelming Text and Graphics

Avoiding small font is essential to making sure that the audience can read your visual aids. A general standard is to make sure that all PowerPoint slides are at least 18-point font to ensure that audience members in the back row will be able to read your presentation. Additionally, you should avoid overwhelming text and graphics as they will distract from the main topics and points of your presentation.

The "aggregate supply" and "aggregate demand" curves for the AS-AD model.

Complicated Graphics: The speaker should avoid using complicated graphics in a presentation.

Too Much Information or Too Many Slides

Try to keep the amount of information on each slide to a minimum and use only what is necessary to convey the key point of the visual aid or slide. Additionally, try to keep the number of slides or visual aids in your presentation to a minimum. A rule of thumb is to use each slide in a PowerPoint for 30 seconds to a minute of your presentation. Remember that the majority of your presentation should come across in what you are speaking about rather than through the text on your visual aids.

Distracting Animation or Noises

Avoid distracting animation and noises. These will take the focus of the audience away from your presentation and shift it toward the noise or animation instead.