Visual aids clarify information and transmit it more efficiently. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” They also anchor the presentation and keep the presenter on task.
Although seemingly outdated, traditional visual aids such as flip charts and overheads still have their place. Flip charts are large and can be difficult to transport, but every good speaker should know how to use them. They do not need a darkened room or any supporting technology. Good charts are few in number, simple, and bold. Practicing on plain paper ahead of the presentation will help.
There are a few tricks for flip charts:
*Leaving a blank page between each one used will prevent bleed through.
*Writing done lightly in pencil ahead of the presentation will not be visible to the audience. This is useful trick for notes, such as reminder of what’s on the next page.
*Flip charts can be reused if they are handled properly between engagements.
*Adding color is good, but only one accent color should be used along with black.
*Perforated flip charts allow pages to be removed and hung around the room. Post-it-note style charts are also available.
Many speakers use handouts because they ensure every audience member can see the main points. They also provide a reference for later. However, if the audience reads a handout instead of watching the presentation, they can distract from the speaker.
Most speakers today use LCD projectors attached to computers. The price of projectors and projector bulbs, once prohibitively expensive, has fallen significantly. Laskowski also carries a set of portable speakers that plug into his computer. The projector should be given a dry run before the presentation, ensuring that it is positioned the proper distance from the screen, that everything is connected properly, and that there are no technical problems.
No matter the medium, visual aids must be large and clear. For an audience 30 feet away, a 24-point type might suffice, but at 75 or 100 feet, the speaker needs letters as large as 48 point. Also, whether visual aids are as low-tech as flip charts or as high-tech as LCD projects, there is no substitute for practicing, including a quick run through the visual aids on site before the performance.
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