The following blog post was written by Rachel Stires, of the Presentation Training Institute.
If you've ever been involved in an extremely boring meeting, it probably included a lecture and possible bullet points on a whiteboard. Conveying thoughts in any business environment means that engaging the mind must be part of the process. Ideally, your audience should be entertained as they learn about a new product, economic policy or other concept. Visual aids are the best way to connect to your audience regardless of the subject matter. Learn how these tools affect your audience for the better.
Increased Concept Retention
Psychology Today reports that people tend to retain information for longer time periods when a visual aid is included. Your eyes are constantly taking in information about the world around you. It's understandable that this sense is one of the most dominant ones for most people. A picture, graph or other visual aid will simply be more memorable because of the eyesight's dominance.
In contrast, looking only at text or listening to a lecture will be less memorable because your eyes aren't necessarily being challenged or stimulated. It's possible that you'll forget the information almost immediately when a visual aid isn't involved. Ideally, add a visual aid to every presentation in order to convey your thoughts with precision.
Easily Convey Complex Statistics
Some corporate positions involve complex statistics that must be explained on a regular basis. Supervisors and other colleagues understand the core concepts behind these statistics, but you may have even more information to expound on. Use simple visual aids to explain an intricate system or concept. Pie, line and bar graphs are perfect visual aids to keep your ideas on point. Explore one concept on a single graph, and then move forward to the next concept. All of these visual aids might merge over the course of the presentation, but they'll be understandable as they're added in small, digestible chunks.
Ineffectual Visual Aids and Color Choices
Adding color to your presentation doesn't automatically make it an effective tool. In fact, you can create an ineffective resource with poor color choices. The eyes don't respond well to blue, green and red. When you combine these colors in particular, you have a visual aid that drowns itself out. Preferably, you want the text to stand out from the background. Use a dark-blue background with white lettering, for example. When colors blend into each other, you'll have a confusing presentation that only generates questions in the end.
Font Size Makes a Difference
Although most of your visual aids will be images, there must be text that's included in the mix. Be aware that any font size smaller than 18 point is just too small to see from a presentation standpoint. You might want to highlight some words in bold or italic text too, but don't overuse these features. Simple font styles, such as Arial, work well in a relatively large size choice. Your audience will be able to see every word on the screen without squinting at the text with these guidelines. A good rule of thumb is also choosing a text style and sticking to that decision for the entire presentation. A cohesive presentation brings all of the concepts together without compromising on quality.
Stick to One Concept on Each Slide
Visual aids are meant to simplify an idea, but they can create conflict if you present too much information at once. Divide out your slides so that each visual aid covers one idea or concept. Your audience digests this information, and then they can start processing the next visual aid. At the end of the presentation, they'll be able to explain the concept in their minds and among their colleagues. Print out a copy of the presentation for each audience member so that they can always have a visual aid for the presented topics.
After you create a visual aid, place it to the side and ignore it for a day or two. Pull it out afterward, and stare at it from about eight feet away. The words, images and other items should all make sense as a complete slide. You shouldn't be confused by any sections either. If you have any concerns about the visual aid, you're able to fix them before a presentation. You'll be happier with your work as a result.
Rachel is a media relations specialist for the Presentation Training Institute. As someone with an interest in public speaking, she understands the value of strong communication skills and effective presentation techniques