When used correctly, a visual aid can supplement and enhance your presentation. While it is not typically the focus of your presentation, it is a great tool for your audience to better understand your information.
Prepare Visual Aids in Advance: This ensures that you have the time to craft quality visual aids that truly improve and add to the message of the speech. Also, having your visual aid done in advance allows for its use in practicing your speech. Often times mistakes are made during the speech because the speaker did not practice with their visual aid. This takes away from your credibility and thus the effectiveness of the visual aid.
Keep Visual Aids Simple: In order to keep things clear and understandable, it is best to include in your visual aid only what is necessary to get the message across. It is meant to be a visual aid, not a visual distraction or cause of confusion.
Make Sure Visual Aids are Large Enough: Keep in mind where you will be presenting so that you make sure the text is big enough to read!
Use Fonts That are Easy to Read: Hopefully this one goes without saying: if it is hard to read, it does neither you nor the audience any good. It is best to aim for clarity.
Avoid Passing Visual Aids Among the Audience: This is simply a main cause of distraction and will give rise to your audience reading instead of listening. If you must pass out a pamphlet or information of some sort,
Display Visual Aids Only While Discussing Them: This prevents your audience from focusing on the visual aid even though you've moved on in your speech.
Talk to Your Audience NOT Your Visual Aid: It is alright to glance at it periodically, this encourages your audience to look at it as well. Your audience will follow your gaze and this gives you a chance to refresh your memory, though it is important to keep the audience as your focus. This gives them more cause to keep paying attention to your explanation of the visual aid and also allows you to gauge how the aid is coming across.
PRACTICE With Your Visual Aid: It cannot be stressed enough. As the use of PowerPoint is now the norm, we see many committing the common mistakes these tips will help you avoid. If you've gone through all the motions you'll be better prepared to handle a technical error and will also have a better chance at a smooth transition to and from your visual aid.
Prepared by GVSU Speech Lab Consultants
Information adapted from Stephen Lucas' The Art of Public Speaking, Tenth Edition.