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7 Ways Visual Aids Can Improve Your Next Presentation

7 Ways Visual Aids Can Improve Your Next Presentation

20th September 2017

A picture speaks a thousand words — and using effective images, photos and other visuals can mean the difference between an average presentation and an engaging one. Get it right and your audience walks away enthused, with your key messages cemented in their minds. Get it wrong and your presentation will command the same level of interest as a family holiday slide show.

Want to try using visual art to pep up your message? Use our best tips and techniques to create presentations that will be remembered for all the right reasons.

More than words

Novices and nervous presenters often make one of two mistakes: employing visual aids as a crutch, using them to merely echo phrases and powerful points from their spoken sections; or using them as a script, that they spend the entire presentation reading from.

Remember that visuals should be used to complement and enhance your messages, rather than repeat them.

Make complex data simple

It’s essential to back up your assertions throughout any presentation with clear and factual data. Detailed figures and percentages are incredibly difficult for any audience to absorb, and this is one area where visuals absolutely make the difference in conveying your message. Use a data handling program like Excel to convert data into pie charts and graphs to visually deploy when you need to back up a claim.

You can also compare before and after figures to demonstrate the success of an activity or the results of an experiment. Information is easier to demonstrate when its displayed as a contrast. Show the improvements in a healthcare program, display where a business is losing customers, outline the flow of history to students — the possibilities are endless.

An animated education

Film clips can be the perfect way to illustrate metaphors, stories, or to reflect human behaviour as part of your presentation. Using a short section of film or video can also allow you to take a break and forms an excellent way of segueing through to a new section of the presentation. Create contrast and allow video to do the hard work of getting a complex point across. Struggling to explain a concept? Find a publicly available expert video and allow an authority in their field to educate your audience.

Check the tech

It might sound simple, but nothing will scupper your presentation like an IT failure at the first hurdle. Those first minutes are a vital time to establish your authority while engaging and connecting with your audience. Run through setting up your projector with your computer, or make sure the Interactive Flat Panel Display is connected to the internet. Using PowerPoint or Prezi? Check that it works with your wireless presenter. And there’s nothing wrong with double-checking there’s enough access to power sockets, either.

Use funny pictures

Captivate your audience by making them feel something. Humour is the easiest win here, and even if you are not naturally funny, you can let the visuals tell the jokes for you. Talking about how people are easily led? Flash up a picture of some sheep. Making a point about the use of dated tactics? A shot of an ‘80s fashion magazine will do the trick. Don’t overdo it. Just the lightest touch of humour keeps everyone entertained without distracting from your message.

Get interactive

One quality that’s universal to all the best public speakers is that they involve their audience. While you may not have the confidence to communicate and question individuals in a throwaway tone, a more formalised brainstorming session can get everyone in the room motivated and thinking in the same direction. Start off with an open forum centred on your topic and use an Interactive Flat Panel Display or Interactive Projector to note down everyone’s ideas. You can then email them across afterwards.

Print and distribute

Want audience members to take notes throughout your presentation? One idea is to print out your slideshow and shrink it down onto sheets of A4 complete with spaces for people to jot down relevant points and information. This way they’ll have a handy takeaway for future reference that makes sure your words have a voice long after the curtain has closed on your big performance. Alternatively, go green and put the presentation on Slideshare!

In conclusion

With the huge range of technology available together with the wealth of reusable media on the internet, there’s no excuse for not nailing the visual aspect of your presentation. With TED talks enjoying a huge degree of popularity over the last few years, it’s clear that people still absolutely enjoy and value learning in such an active and dynamic environment.

With the right images and a playful yet professional attitude, you should be able to use visual aids to enhance presentations centred around the most analytical and complex concepts. And once you have mastered this skill, imagine the fun you can then have with more engaging and innovative concepts.