Using Visual Support
Three Key Factors:
the Speaker, the Audience, the Situation
These factors should guide all of the decisions the speaker makes regarding the content, design and style of visual elements of the presentation.
- The speaker: his or her goals, skills, responsibilities, interests, ethics, etc.
- The audience: its members' self-interest, roles, knowledge, priorities, etc.
- The situation: the task, occasion, physical & social environment, etc.
When to Use Visual Support
- Are visual aids required? Are they customary or expected?
- Will visuals help achieve the goals of the presentation?
- Will visuals enhance audience interest, understanding or retention?
What elements of content will be enhanced by visual display?
- Structural elements (previews and summaries)
- Conceptual elements (arguments, issues, or procedures and their support: explanations, statistics, definitions, testimony, comparisons, examples)
What type of visual support is most suitable for those content elements?
- Object, artifact, model
- Outline, diagram, chart, table, graph, map
- Images, video clips
Considering audience and situation, what media are most appropriate for the types of visual support to be used?
- Poster, flip chart, chalkboard, handouts?
- Overhead projector, slide projector?
- PowerPoint or similar computer software?
- Select media that are appropriate for the size, layout, seating and technological capabilities of the space.
- Select media that are appropriate for the nature of the situation (e.g., formality, speaker-audience relationship, institutional culture).
- Display visuals only when they are relevant; don't let them become distractions. Keep this principle in mind when planning the use of handouts.
- Integrate visual support with what is being said. With some types of visuals — such as film clips and complex data graphics — it is helpful to tell your audience what they're going to see before you show them.
- Make visuals meaningful for listeners: point out what is important; explain the meaning of columns and rows in tables, x and y axes of graphs, units of measurement, pictorial symbols, etc.
- Talk to the audience, not to visuals.