Types of Sensory Enhancements



Physical Objects and Animations

Physical and animate objects can help to integrate the verbal and visual elements of a presentation into one unified message.

Learning Objectives

Indicate when using physical and animate objects is appropriate in presentations

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Choosing the appropriate object for a presentation depends on the speaker’s preference, as well as the content and setting of the presentation.
  • Ultimately, objects should enhance rather than detract from a presentation.
  • Using physical objects is often necessary when demonstrating how to do something so that the audience can fully understand the procedure or process.

Key Terms

  • prop: An item placed on a stage or set to create a scene or scenario in which actors perform. Contraction of “property”.
  • LCD: A flat panel display, electronic visual display, or video display that uses the light modulating properties of liquid crystals. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly.

Physical and Animate Objects

In today’s media-driven world, public speakers have a plethora of visual aids to choose from when augmenting their presentations. From LCD projections to flip charts, visual aids help presenters inform and persuade audiences, as well as help them understand the presentation topic. Physical and animate objects can also help integrate the verbal and visual elements of the speaker’s presentation into one unified and memorable message.

Ron Davis holds a lightbulb box at the EcoCampus Dedication.

Using Objects: Physical and animate objects can help audiences better understand the topics being presented.

Objects as Visual Aids

Ultimately, objects should enhance rather than detract from a presentation. The use of objects as visual aids involves using actual objects as live demonstrations or props for the audience. For example, a speech about tying knots would be more effective by bringing a rope. Using physical objects is often necessary when demonstrating how to do something so that the audience can fully understand the procedure or process.

The use of physical and animate objects in formal presentations is the same as in stage acting where actors use still and animated props. For the objects to be as effective as possible, they must be positioned in a way where they are quickly detected and easily understood by the audience. A common mistake involves placing an object where it is obstructed or hidden from view, or in front of a more interesting object that divides the audience’s attention. Speakers must also be cognizant of objects that are too large or inconvenient for stage use.

Choosing Objects for Presentations

There are many physical and animate objects available for presentations. Choosing the appropriate visual aids depends on the speaker’s preference, as well as the content and setting of the presentation. Objects can be both beneficial or distracting during speeches. Therefore, presenters should prepare and plan ahead accordingly to ensure that objects are appropriate for the audience and material being presented.

Chalkboards, Flip Charts, and Transparencies

Visual aids including chalkboards, flipcharts, and transparencies help presenters weave words and images together into a cohesive message.

Learning Objectives

Distinguish between the use of chalkboards, dry boards, whiteboards and flipcharts during presentations

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • While chalkboards are typically used in academic settings, universities and organizations employ dry boards for presentations and record-keeping.
  • Chalkboards, dry boards, and flipcharts allow for fast, simple and easy use by presenters who may not be familiar or comfortable with presentation software tools.
  • Transparencies are used across a wide variety of organizations, allowing for easy note-taking and steady eye contact during presentations.
  • Despite its heavy use in academia, transparencies are quickly becoming outdated and being replaced by computer-based presentation tools.

Key Terms

  • transparency: specifically, a transparent material with an image on it, that is viewable by shining light through it.

Chalkboards, Flipcharts, and Transparencies

Visual aids such as chalkboards, flipcharts, and transparencies are used by presenters to help weave their words and images together into a cohesive message. Using visual tools effectively during a presentation helps speakers appear prepared, professional, interesting, and credible. Writing tools and imagery also help audience members focus on and remember the presenter’s major points, as well as better understand the presenter’s argument.

image

Choosing Visual Aids: Modern chalkboards are often made with green slate stone so that the writing is easier to read.

Chalkboards: From School to the Workplace

Although we often think of chalkboards in academic or teaching settings, chalkboards (or dry boards) are also commonly used in business environments. Chalkboards are reusable writing surfaces where text and drawings are made using sticks of calcium sulfate or calcium carbonate known as chalk. Chalkboards were originally made of smooth, thin sheets of black or dark grey slate stone. Modern versions are often green because the color is considered easier for reading.

Organizations typically use dry boards, which use dry erase markers for easy application and removal. These boards can be used for presentations, as well as advertisements or record-keeping.

In presentations, chalkboards and dry boards provide significant flexibility for recording audience responses and jumpstarting discussions. This spontaneity allows for fast, simple and easy use by presenters who may not be familiar or comfortable with presentation software tools.

On the other hand, writing on a chalkboard or dry board can delay presentations. Presenters may be tempted to speak to the board instead of the audience. Also, the chalkboard’s size limits visibility for large groups. Presenters with poor spelling or illegible handwriting can also pose problems for audience members.

Flipcharts in Presentations

Like chalkboards and dry boards, flipcharts have a low learning curve, allowing anyone with the ability to write to quickly convey information to audience members. Flipcharts are typically stationary items consisting of pads of large paper sheets fixed to the upper edge of a whiteboard. These are typically supported on a tripod or four-legged easel. Invented by Peter Kent, who built one to help him in a presentation, flipcharts are commonly used for presentations.

Flipcharts come in various forms, including:

  • Stand-alone flipcharts
  • Metallic tripod (or easel) stands
  • Metallic mounts on wheels

Recently, scientists have developed a digital self-writing flipchart which writes word-for-word everything it is instructed to record. Self-heightening flipcharts such as the POGO system are also being introduced into public use. However, traditional flipcharts where text is usually hand-written with marker pens are still widely used in organizations.

Transparencies in Business, Academia, and the Church

In today’s information age, digital presentations and slideshows are by far some of the most widely used visual aids in public speaking. However, transparencies are still used by a variety of organizations. A transparency, also known in industrial settings as a “viewfoil” or “foil”, is a thin sheet of transparent flexible material, typically cellulose acetate, onto which figures can be drawn. These are then placed on an overhead projector to display to an audience.

Many companies and small organizations use a system of projectors and transparencies in meetings and other groupings of people; though this system is being largely replaced by LCD projectors and interactive whiteboards. In academia, mathematics and history classes traditionally used transparencies to illustrate a point or problem. Math classes in particular used a roll of acetate to illustrate sufficiently long problems and create illustrations that were difficult to do on computers due to a lack of math symbols on standard computer keyboards.

Nevertheless, more colleges are switching to digital projectors and PowerPoint presentations. In churches and other religious organizations, religious leaders used transparencies to show sermon outlines and illustrate certain topics such as Old Testament battles and Jewish artifacts during worship services.

While transparencies allow presenters to maintain eye contact with the audience, and multitask (e.g. take notes), they often appear plain looking with no motion or sound. Moreover, transparencies must be shown in dim lighting, which may potentially cause visibility problems for viewers. As a result, overhead projectors are quickly becoming outdated and being replaced by computer-based presentation tools.

Static Representations: Images, Drawings, and Graphs

Physical cues such as images can help to reinforce a speaker’s message.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the appropriate placement of images, graphs, and drawings in presentations

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Static imagery can either serve as a useful visual tool to further emphasize or support a speaker’s point, or confuse audiences and detract from the speaker’s message.
  • Photographs, maps, and handouts are all examples of visual aids that employ static imagery.
  • Bar graphs, line graphs, and other types of graphs are used in both static and electronic presentations to visualize relationships between different quantities.
  • Drawings or diagrams can be used when photographs do not show exactly what the speaker wants to show or explain.

Key Terms

  • typography: The appearance and style of typeset matter.

Static Presentations: Images, Drawings, and Graphs

Visual communication, as the name suggests, conveys ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon. Audiences partially rely on vision to receive a speaker’s message, using physical cues, signs, typography, drawing, graphic design, illustration, color, and electronic resources. Public speakers often employ a variety of presentation tools—including drawings, paintings, and graphs—to inform, educate or persuade a person or audience. Although static in nature, non-electronic imagery has both advantages and disadvantages when used as visual aids in presentations.

A drawing that's labeled with hand-written notes to add clarity.

Drawings: Drawings can be used in place of complex or detailed photographs.

The Many Uses of Images in Presentations

Images can be any two-dimensional figure such as a map, a graph, a pie chart, or an abstract painting. In this wider sense, images can also be rendered manually (e.g., by drawing, painting, carving) or automatically (e.g., by printing, computer graphics technology). Static images such as photographs, paintings, and illustrations can serve as useful visual tools to further emphasize or support a speaker’s point. However, if the images appear unrealistic, too small, or confusing, they can hinder the presentation and dilute the speaker’s message.

Examples of static images used in presentations include:

Photographs – Photographs are helpful tools to make or emphasize a point, or to explain a topic when the actual object cannot be viewed. For example, photographs are particularly useful for displaying historical places and sites that no longer exist.

Maps – Maps show geographical areas of interest. They are often used as aids when speaking of differences between geographical areas or showing the location of something.

Handouts – Charts, graphs, pictures, illustrations, and other images can be printed on handouts for distribution before, during, or after a presentation. An important aspect of the use of a handout is that a person can keep the handout long after the presentation is over. This helps the person better remember what was discussed.

Graphs and Data

Graphs are used in both static and electronic presentations to visualize relationships between different quantities. Various types of graphs are used as visual aids, including bar graphs, line graphs, pie graphs, and scatter plots. Graphs are particularly helpful for visualizing statistics that might be overlooked if just presented verbally. However, it is graphs’ complexity—detailed calculations, complex data and large figures—that cause them to become cluttered during use in a speech. Graphs often include too much detail, overwhelming the audience and making the graph ineffective.

Drawings in Presentations

Drawings or diagrams can be used when photographs do not show exactly what the speaker wants to show or explain. It could also be used when a photograph is too detailed. For example, a drawing or diagram of the circulatory system throughout the body is a lot more effective than a picture of a cadaver showing the circulatory system.

Nevertheless, talent and skills are usually needed for professional drawings that require significant detail or realism. If not done correctly, drawings can look sloppy, be ineffective, and appear unprofessional.

Dynamic Representations: Video and Multimedia

For speakers, multimedia allows dynamic customization and increased chances for audience engagement during presentations.

Learning Objectives

Illustrate how multimedia tools can enhance audiences’ experience

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Presenters may use navigation devices such as text links, picture thumbnails, or miniature screenshots to move around spontaneously within and between large collections of interconnected content.
  • Although studies have revealed that audiences are more engaged during presentations that employ dynamic elements, there have been no assessments as to whether using multimedia improves learning and retention of presentation material.
  • Multimedia such as video enhances the experience of the audience member, and can help presenters convey information more easily and quickly than static presentations.
  • Integrating multimedia with online applications and hardware elements can ease the job of presenters by adding emphasis and bringing attention to specific points in the presentation.

Key Terms

  • multimedia: The use of different media to convey information; text together with audio, graphics and animation, often packaged on CD-ROM with links to the Internet.

Dynamic Representations: Video and Multimedia

Presenters may use navigation devices such as text links, picture thumbnails, or miniature screenshots to move around spontaneously within and between large collections of interconnected content. Using these relational presentation techniques allows presenters to interact with rather than “talk at” audiences.

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Multimedia in Presentations: Presenters often use multimedia in presentations to make the content more engaging for audiences.

Audience Reception of Dynamic Content

Although studies have revealed that audiences are more engaged during presentations that employ dynamic elements, there have been no assessments as to whether using multimedia improves learning and retention of presentation material. Regardless of whether speakers use static or dynamic content, all presentations must present consistent and compelling information within a limited time frame. The various formats of technological or digital multimedia available to presenters may be intended to enhance the users’ experience, quickly and easily convey information, or transcend everyday experiences.

Software Presentation Programs

Presentation software programs provide public speakers with the ability to display video, photography, and other dynamic content in slideshow formats suitable for small and large audiences. For example, Apple’s iPhoto allows groups of digital photos to be displayed in a slideshow with options including transitions, looping functions, and the integration of music and digital photos. Zooming presentation programs such as Prezi present content on one infinite canvas. This allows for non-linear presentations where presenters can present richer detail of content, as well as provide a better overview and understanding of complex visual messages and relations.

Multimedia Tools in Presentation Software

Many presentation programs come with pre-designed images (clip art) and/or have the ability to import graphic images. Some tools also have the ability to search and import images from Flickr or Google directly from the tool. Custom graphics can also be created in other programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator and then exported.

Similar to programming extensions for an operating system or web browser, plugins for presentation programs can be used to enhance their capabilities. For example, it would be useful to export a PowerPoint presentation as a PDF document. This would make delivery through removable media or sharing over the Internet easier. Since PDF files are designed to be shared regardless of the platform, this format would allow presentations to be more widely accessible.

Certain presentation programs also offer an interactive, integrated hardware element designed to engage an audience (e.g., audience response systems) or facilitate presentations across different geographical locations (e.g., web conferencing). Integrated hardware devices such as laser pointers and interactive whiteboards can ease the job of the presenter by adding emphasis and bringing attention to specific points in the presentation.

Slideshows

A slideshow is an on-screen presentation of information and/or ideas presented using overhead projectors, photos, or presentation software.

Learning Objectives

Explain how slideshows are used for personal and business purposes

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Presentation software is most commonly used for instructional purposes, usually with the intention of creating a dynamic, audiovisual presentation.
  • Before the introduction of motion pictures and computer software, slides originally were projected onto a theater screen via magic lanterns.
  • In addition to business presentations, slideshows are used to provide dynamic imagery for museum presentations and installation art, and for saving personal memories as digital photo albums.

Key Terms

  • magic lantern: An early form of slide projector that could achieve simple animation by moving and merging images.
  • phenomenological: Using the method of phenomenology, by which the observer examines the data without trying to provide an explanation of them.
  • annotation: The process of writing comments or commentary.

Slideshows

A slideshow is an on-screen presentation of information and/or ideas presented on slides. Since the late 1960s, visual artists in museums and galleries have used slideshows as a device for presenting specific information about an action or research, or as a phenomenological form in itself. Before the advent of motion pictures, slides originally were projected onto a theater screen by magic lanterns. This practice later evolved into moving picture shows.

A screenshot of Flickr's login page.

Building a Slideshow: Consumers can use online programs such as Flickr to assemble photo slideshows.

Even after the introduction of motion pictures, slides continued to be used between film showings to advertise for local businesses or advise on theater decorum—for example, by requesting that gentlemen remove their hats and refrain from smoking, and urging mothers to remove crying infants from the auditorium.

Slideshows were later conducted using apparatuses such as a carousel slide or overhead projector. Most recently, modern slideshows are commonly assembled using presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Prezi.

Personal and Business Uses

Presentation software is most commonly used for instructional purposes, usually with the intention of creating a dynamic, audiovisual presentation. The relevant points and imagery of the entire presentation are placed on slides and accompanied by a spoken monologue. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” holds true, in that a single image can save a presenter from speaking a paragraph of descriptive details. As with any public speaking or lecturing, a certain amount of talent, experience, and rehearsal is required to make a successful slideshow presentation.

Slideshows have artistic uses as well. They are often used to provide dynamic imagery for museum presentations and installation art. Consumer uses of slideshows include personal screensavers, and digital photo slides for display. Vendors or consumers can custom make slideshows using their using photos, music, wedding invitations, birth announcements, or other digital files. The slideshows are typically placed onto DVDs, converted into HD video format, or saved in an executable file for computer use. Ultimately, photo slideshow software—coupled with digital cameras and computer technology—has made it easier to create photo slideshows, eliminating the need for expensive color reversal film.

Common Slideshow Features

Photo slideshow software often provides a wide range of editing features. For example, users can add transitions, pan and zoom effects, video clips, background music, narrations, and captions.

Slideshows created using presentation software result in a file sometimes referred to as a “slide deck” or simply a “deck” in business settings. Some key features useful in desktop or cloud-based presentation software include screen capturing, image editing and annotation tools, and slide transition and text effects.

Web-based slideshows are slideshows that can be viewed or presented using a web browser. Some web-based slideshows are generated from presentation software, but may be difficult to modify. Others offer templates where slideshows can be easily edited and changed. Web-based slideshows are typically generated or authored in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS code (files). However, compared with desktop presentation programs, web-based slideshows are usually limited in features.