How To Give An Awesome Presentation With Visual Aids

Using visual aids during a presentation does more than entertain the audience.
How To Give An Awesome Presentation With Visual Aids
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Public Speaking Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author
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You need to learn a lot of tips and techniques if you want to be a powerful public speaker. One of the most common tips for giving a powerful speech you will find is creating a presentation with visual aids. In fact, most speakers will tell you that a presentation without visual aids is pretty risky.

Using visual aids during a presentation does more than entertain the audience. It also helps them remember facts, and it will also prompt your memory if you suddenly go blank. They're also useful for listeners who have some trouble retaining verbal information, and need a visual representation. You and your information will be far more memorable if you take the time to make relevant and interesting visual aids.

But we’ve never discussed exactly how to use visual aids properly with your presentation. Sure, visual aids are a powerful tool for any speaker. But if you don’t utilize them correctly, you may detract rather than add to your presentation. If you think back, I’m sure you can remember a speech like that. More than likely, the presenter’s visual aids were so irrelevant or distracting that the speaker would have been better off without them.

If you have to make presentations, and want to use all your tools to their greatest effects, try the following techniques.

1. Make sure everybody can see it

This seems obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people make this mistake. When you're doing a presentation with visual aids, you need to ensure that every person in the room can see them easily. When people make this mistake, it's usually because they didn't know enough about the venue to start with.

As you've probably heard before, to give a great public speech, you must always know the layout of the venue. This will allow you to compensate for any problems as early as possible. So, don’t make this amateur mistake. To an audience member, there's nothing more annoying than being unable to see the visual aids properly. And this is especially true when the visual aids contain crucial facts or explanations. If your audience misses this extra information, you will probably lose them entirely.

2. Explain the visual aids as you show them

There’s one key principle you have to remember when giving a presentation with visual aids. And that principle is that your audience can either read text or listen to you, but not both. This means that when you first present a visual aid, you should explain its content and relevance immediately. If there’s too much of a delay between the presentation of the visual aid and your explanation, then the visual aid is not an aid, but a distraction instead.

Related: Own The Stage: Here's Why Your Presentation Needs A Twitter-Friendly Headline

3. Take the visual aid down once you’re done with it

You need to remove the visual aid as soon as you're finished with it, because otherwise some of your audience will probably keeping staring at it, or read it again. And while they're doing that, they aren't listening to you. If you want to keep their attention on you, put the visual part of your presentation away when you're not talking about it.

4. Go minimalist

Most people are guilty of overcrowding their PowerPoint slides when they give a presentation with this type of visual aid. This might actually be the number one sin of public speakers in the corporate world. How many times have you been at some sort of corporate presentation, only to be greeted by slide after slide with what seems like 200 words each? And if you thought about it later, I bet you realized that you didn't read one entire page, let alone all of them.

This is a major problem if you want your speech to have a solid impact on its audience. Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to making a good presentation with visual aids. It’s called the 1-6-6 Rule. Here’s how it works: maximum of one idea per slide, six bullet points at the most, and a maximum of six words per bullet point. This is a pretty simple set of rules to follow. However, it's not meant to be restrictive, or an absolute. Instead, use it as a guideline to make good visual aids that will be easy for your audience to read and understand.

5. Prepare for problems

Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it probably will. While visual aids can be a great benefit to your overall presentation, you should always, and I do mean always, be prepared to present without them. Don't let them become a crutch for your speech. If you can’t get your message across without the use of visual aids, then you need to go back to the drawing board. Again, visual aids are just that, aids. You should be able to communicate the main points of your presentation without them if you have to.

6. Don't make yourself redundant

If you need to be able to make your speech without visual aids, it also means you shouldn't have too many of them. There’s a certain point in a presentation with visual aids where you cross a line, and should just mail your slides to the audience instead. This will save everyone some time, you won't have to go through the hassle of presenting to an audience, and your audience doesn’t have to sit through your presentation. It's almost a win all round. But you want to avoid this, so don’t let your visual aids make you redundant. Instead, use them strategically to enhance the delivery of your message. This will stop them from becoming your message.

The number one thing you can take away from this

In today’s digital age, you would be hard-pressed to find a speaker who didn't use visual aids during their speech. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as I said, they are a hugely helpful tool. But they have to be used the right way, or they can cause more problems than they solve.

Related: Infographic: How To Give Better Presentations

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