Tips for Using Visual Aids in Your Speech

Sometimes it is easier to forget about visual aids than prepare them. It’s hard enough work writing your speech let alone having to produce a multi-media extravaganza to push home your point – right? Maybe and some speeches don’t require visual aids, such as wedding speeches or toasts.

However for a lot of speeches, using visual aids will not only enhance your presentation, but also help you to remember key points and keep you and your audience focused. Visual aids or ‘props’ can be as small or large as you want. They can vary in their simplicity or complexity and how much a part of your speech they are used for – it’s up to you. Here are some tips for successful use of visual aids in your presentation:

1. Any props should be visually stimulating and supportive of the topic you are speaking on.

2. If using pictures on your slides, fill up the whole screen with the illustration.

3. Don’t pack the slide with wordy paragraphs and information. Break your data down into bullet points.

4. Check with the organizers what visual aids are available for your presentation. Ensure everything is present and working before you begin your speech.

5. Make sure every member of the audience can see the visual aids.

6. When you use the visual aid, ensure the audience’s attention is focused on it. When you have made each particular point, take the visual away and re-focus them back on you.

7. If you have trouble remembering your speech, use your visual aids as memory joggers.

8. Visual aids aren’t just overheads and slides. They can be noisemakers, costumes and tricks. Visual aids can be used to induce a laugh, stimulate the audience or make a passionate point. Select your ‘alternative props’ with care.

9. When you reveal your visual aid, make sure you continue speaking to the audience not to the prop.

10. Handouts are also considered visual aids. Determine the correct time to give them out. You want your audience to be focused on your words, not reading and discussing elements of the handout during your speech.

Visual aids will support your argument and increase the audience’s understanding of the main points. This is because the mind better remembers picture information rather than word information. A visual presentation will enhance your credibility and it may even help you with your nerves. If you have a visual aid to focus on, rather than your shaking hands, your fears will be forgotten as you take the audience through the points on the screen. As with any part of public speaking, practice using your visual aids well before the day of your presentation.