The Value of Sensory Enhancements

Improve Listener Engagement, Comprehension, and Memory

Sensory enhancements may help your audience to become more engaged and to better understand and remember your presentation.

Learning Objectives

Discuss how sensory enhancements can improve listener engagement, comprehension, and memory

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Listeners will be more engaged if you tailor your sensory enhancements to them and add value with pictures, graphs, and other visually appealing items.
  • Sensory enhancements improve comprehension through the process of repeating the information both visually and audibly.
  • The repetition of information through a sensory enhancement and in your speech will help the audience remember your presentation.

Key Terms

  • engage: To engross or hold the attention of (someone); to keep busy or occupied.

Improving engagement, comprehension, and memory of your presentation can be accomplished by using sensory enhancements, or visual aids. Sensory enhancements allow the audience members to break up the presentation into memorable chunks that are more easily understood than if the presentation had not included visual aids.

Improving Listener Engagement through Sensory Enhancements

  • Listeners will be more engaged if you understand your audience and tailor your sensory enhancements to them. For example, if you are presenting to a group that may have a shorter attention span, such as teenagers or young adults, you will want to use sensory enhancements with pictures and colors rather than additional text.
  • Visual aids help audience members follow the structure and flow of your presentation. They will also help audience members pay attention, as it is easier to engage with visuals rather than simply with words.
  • Use engaging anecdotes, quotes, and examples as a part of your visual aid. Stories and quotes help to break up your presentation, and will also help audience members to maintain their engagement in your presentation. Outlining these stories in your visual aids will help the audience remember and apply these stories.

Improving Listener Comprehension through Repetition and Sensory Enhancements

A scientific graph

Making an Impression: Graphs, images, and other sensory enhancements help the audience to understand and remember a presentation.

Listener comprehension can be greatly improved through repetition, as it allows the audience to mentally rehearse and process information a second time, both visually and audibly. This is most effective when a sensory enhancement is used as a method of repeating an idea. For example, if a speaker uses a story to explain a concept and has a visual aid related to the story, the audience member will process both the visual aid and the story, and will be more likely to understand the concepts the speaker is presenting.

Improving Listener Memory through Sensory Enhancements

Sensory enhancements are also a powerful way of enhancing the memory of your audience. This is accomplished through the repetition of the information presented to the audience member. If a speaker discusses the idea and then uses a visual aid to help the audience understand that idea, the audience member will think about and process this idea twice rather than just once. This will result in the audience member being more likely to remember the idea. Similarly, a visual aid will act as a cue for the audience to remember a story or concept that the speaker is explaining. The visual cue will more easily remind the audience of the concept than a simple explanation in words.

Choosing the Right Visual Aid

One way to make your presentation memorable is through the use of visual aids; select aids that are appropriate to the point that you wish to illustrate.

Learning Objectives

Discuss how to choose the appropriate visual aid for presentations

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Visual aids should support, clarify, and amplify, not repeat what you are saying. In order to make sure that the intent of your visual aid is clear try to use only important or memorable words or phrases.
  • It is important to consider if your visual can be seen and understood by the member of your audience who is farthest from the screen when choosing to use it. In order to do this test out your visual aids in different environments.
  • Visual Communication relies on vision, and is primarily presented or expressed with two dimensional images. A visual message accompanying text has a greater power to inform, educate, or persuade a person or audience.

Key Terms

  • Visual Communication: The communication through visual aid and the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon.

Choosing the Right Visual Aid

Visual Communication relies on vision, and is primarily presented or expressed with two dimensional images. These may include the following:

  • Typography
  • Drawing
  • Graphic design
  • Illustration
  • Color
  • Electronic resources
image

Using Visual Aids: A chart is an example of a visual aid that a speaker can use during a speech.

It also explores the idea that a visual message accompanying text has a greater power to inform, educate, or persuade a person or audience. One way to make your presentation vivid and memorable is through the use of visual aids. Although computer generated and projected visual—and presentation—aids are commonly used, it is still important to understand how to use them or any other type of visual aids in your presentation.

There are many different types of visual aids. The type of visual aid a speaker uses depends on his preference and the information he is trying to present. In order to determine the type of visual aid to use, begin by writing your outline first, focusing on the main points of your presentation and taking into consideration your audience and any cultural contexts. Select visual aids that are appropriate to the point that you wish to illustrate or clarify. Visual aids should support, clarify, and amplify, not repeat what you are saying. In order to make sure that the intent of your visual aid is clear, try to use only important or memorable words or phrases. For example, eliminate any unnecessary word slides or overcrowding of visual aids. Pictorial slides and appropriate color usage have the biggest impact.

It is important to consider if your visual aid can be seen and understood by the member of your audience who is farthest from the screen when choosing to use it. In order to do this, test out your visual aids in different environments. Practice with your visual aid when going through your presentation for timing and familiarity. Try to avoid beginning or ending your presentation with a visual aid unless it is key in opening your presentation or making a significant point. Introduce visual aids so that they blend smoothly with your speech and highlight your main points or provide clarity to examples. It is important to maintain eye contact; talk to your audience, not the visual aid throughout your presentation. Practice going through your presentation and coordinating your points with your visual aids when discussing them. Avoid passing hard copies of your visual aids around to the audience as it is often a distraction. Do try to provide interactive aspects into your visual aids that involve the audience such as polls, feedback requests, and interactive activities.

Here are some examples of visual aids:

  • Photographs
  • Drawings or diagrams
  • Graphs
  • Display charts
  • Video excerpts

The Importance of Preparation

Preparing and understanding your visual aids is essential to improving the engagement, understanding, and memory of your audience.

Learning Objectives

Indicate what factors speakers should consider when selecting and preparing visual aids

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • In preparing your visual aids, you should consider three important components: Are your visual aids appropriate for your audience ? Are your visual aids easy to understand and easy to read or view? Do you know what is on your visual aids and can you present them effectively?
  • When creating a visual aid, make sure to consider the knowledge base, demographic background, occupation, and values of your audience.
  • Be sure to use text that is large enough (size 16 point font is a suggested minimum) and colors that do not conflict with one another. This ensures that words are legible.
  • An essential component of using visual aids effectively is to prepare yourself in understanding what is on them and determining how you want to explain them.

Key Terms

  • demographic: A characteristic used to classify people for statistical purposes, such as age, race, or gender.

Appropriate preparation of your visual aids is essential in making sure that they are effective in helping to improve the engagement, memory, and comprehension of your audience. In preparing your visual aids, you should consider three important components:

  • Are your visual aids appropriate for your audience?
  • Are your visual aids easy to understand and easy to read or view?
  • Do you know what is on your visual aids and can you present them effectively?

Are your visual aids appropriate for your audience?

Once your topic has been decided upon and your research is underway, it’s time to think about how you plan to present your information in visual aids. Of the several angles that need to be addressed in regards to delivering a speech, the most important thing to keep in mind is, “Who is my audience? ” Never underestimate the importance of knowing your audience. If your audience can’t understand your visuals, you’ll find it much harder to accomplish your objective.

Make sure to consider the knowledge base, demographic background, occupation, and values of your audience when creating a visual aid. For example, you may not want to use examples and images that one generation or age group may not understand. Your decision to use visual aids such as PowerPoint, charts, or any kind of demonstrative props will have a sizable impact on your audience, so they should be given careful thought.

A polar area diagram by Florence Nightingale (1820–1910). It's titled "Diagram of the causes of mortality in the army in the East."

Choosing Visual Aids: The speaker should carefully select visual aids that are relevant to the topic and the audience.

Are your visual aids easy to understand and easy to read or view?

When you are preparing your visual aids, you should make sure that your audience will be able to read and understand what they are saying. Be sure to use text that is large enough (size 16 point font is a suggested minimum) and colors that do not conflict with one another. This ensures that words are legible. Make sure that any photos, charts, and diagrams are easily understood within the first few seconds of looking at them. If they are not easily understood, be sure to spend time during your presentation explaining what the photos or charts mean.

Additionally, one way to make sure that people in the back of the presentation can read your visual aids is to print off a full page slide of your presentation, place it on the floor and stand up and see if you can read the entire slide. If you cannot read it, people in the back of the room during your presentation will also likely not be able to read your slide. One other consideration is to be sure that you are comfortable using any technology that you will use to assist the presentation of your visual aids. You must also make sure that the location of your presentation has this working technology available to you.

Do you know what is on your visual aids and can you present them effectively?

An essential component of using visual aids effectively is to prepare yourself in understanding what is on them and determining how you want to explain them. If you are using pictures, graphs, or charts to help you explain a point, be sure that you understand the graph or picture and you are comfortable explaining this to an audience. If you are confused about a graph during your presentation, or do not do an adequate job of explaining a graph, your audience will also likely be confused about the graph as well. Such confusion will detract from audience engagement and comprehension.

Before you present, go through your graph, charts, and pictures. In your notes, write where each visual aid is presented in your presentation, what they mean, and how you plan to present them. Be sure to rehearse this before your presentation so your visual aids can be as effective in helping your audience be engaged, understand your presentation, and remember your key points.