What Is the Visual Message?
As the old saying tells us, "one picture is worth a thousand words." People find a speaker’s message more interesting, grasp it more easily, and retain it longer when it is presented visually as well as verbally. Save time – use visuals! Show the audience with images; don’t just tell them with words.
Effective Visuals: The images we show the audience.
Explaining Visuals: The words we use to guide the audience through the visuals
Why Is the Visual Message Important?
The visual message is important because even if you stumble over sentences, mispronounce words, or get the numbers wrong, the audience will still understand.
Visual aids offer several advantages. The primary advantage is clarity. If you are describing a certain object, you can make your message clearer by showing the object or some representation of it.
Another advantage of visual aids is interest. The interest generated by visual images is so strong that visual images are now routinely used in many areas, not just in speech-making. A generation or so ago, most college textbooks were rather dry—page after page of words.
Still another advantage of visual aids is retention. Visual images often stay with us longer than verbal ones.
In fact, when used well, visual aids can enhance almost every aspect of a speech. One study showed that an average speaker who uses visual aids will come across as better prepared, more credible, and more professional than a dynamic speaker who does not use visual aids.
What are the Different Kinds of Visual Aids?
- Models - is an object, usually built to scale, that represents another object in detail.
- Graphs - are a good way to simplify and clarify statistics. Audiences often have trouble grasping a complex series of numbers. The most common type is the line graph. A line graph uses one or more lines to show changes in statistics over time or space. The pie graph is best suited for illustrating simple distribution patterns. The bar graph is a particularly good way to show comparisons between two or more items.
- Charts - are visual aid that summarizes a large block of information, usually in list form.
- Slides and videotapes
- Computer-Generated Graphic - a diagram, chart graph, or the like created with the aid of a computer.
- Transparencies - are visual aids drawn, written, or printed on a sheet of clear acetate and shown with an overhead projector.
- Multimedia Presentations - are speeches that use computer software to combine several kinds of visual and/or audio aids in the same presentation.
- The Speaker - sometimes you can use your own body as a visual aid—by showing how to perform sign language for the deaf, by demonstrating the skills of modern dance, by doing a magic tricks, and so forth
How to Prepare and Use Visual Aids?
Whether you are creating visual aids by hand or designing them on a computer, there are six basic guidelines you should follow to make your aids clear and visually appealing.
- Prepare your visual aids in advance.
- Keep visual aids simple.
- Make sure visual aids are large enough.
- Avoid using chalkboards.
- Display visual aids where the audience can see them.
- Avoid handouts - once visual aids get into the hands of your listeners, you are in trouble. At least three people will be paying more attention to the aid than you—the person who had just had it, the person who has it now, and the person waiting to get the next one. By the time the visual aid moves on, all three may have lost track of what you are saying.
- Display visual aids only when discussing them.
- Talk to your audience, not to your visual aid.
- Explain visual aids clearly and concisely.
- Practice with your visual aid.
How to Create Effective Slides?
Many speakers now employ presentation software for their visual aid. When using such programs, you need to think through your presentation outline carefully before designing your visuals.
1. Use slide text to emphasize key points, not to convey your entire message.
- Limit each slide to one thought, concept, or idea
- Limit the content of each slide to 20 or 25 words—with no more than five or six lines of text containing about 3 or 4 words per line
- Avoid full sentences or blocks of text
- Phrase items in parallel form to simplify reading
- Use the active voice
- Avoid long sequences of text-only slides; mix in visuals to hold viewer attention
2. When designing slides take note of these design principles: consistency, contrast, balance, emphasis, convention, and simplicity.
|Color||The use of color in visuals can account for 60% of an audience's acceptance or rejection of an idea.|
|Background||The simpler and quieter the background is the better.|
|Foreground||The foreground contains the text and graphic elements. Photos or artwork in the foreground can either be decorative or functional. For decorative elements, use them sparingly.|
|Fonts||Choose fonts that are simple and are simply to read. Choose font sizes that are easy to read from anywhere from the room. Use 24-36 font size, and if possible test your font size in the venue if it is large enough.|
*Design inconsistencies confuse and annoy audiences; don’t change colors and other design elements randomly throughout your presentation.
3. Today’s presentation software offers many options; however, use these elements with care and make sure they support your message.
- Functional animation involves motion that is directly related to your message, such as a highlight arrow that moves around the screen to emphasize specific points in a technical diagram. In contrast decorative animation, such as having a block of text cartwheel in form off screen does not have any communication value and can easily distract audiences.
- Choose subtle slide transitions that ease the eye from one slide to the next.
- Hyperlinks and action buttons let you build flexibility into your presentations. A hyperlink instructions your presentation software to jump to another slide in your presentation, to a website, or to another program entirely. Hyperlinks can also be assigned to preprogrammed actions know as action buttons.
Components of Your Presentation
- Title slide – you can make a good first impression with one or two title slide, the equivalent of a report’s cover and title page
- Agenda and program details – these slides communicate the agenda for your presentation and any additional information the audience might need
- Navigation slides – these are necessary for longer presentations. Navigation slides tell your audience where you are going and where you’ve been. As you complete each section, repeat the agenda slide but indicate which material has been covered and which section are you about to begin.