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Education Resources

Visual Aids – Creating Visual Aid Properly from Business Communication

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In case you want to make your oral presentation very interesting, you can do so with the help of ‘Visual aids.’ However, they must be relevant to what you want to say. A careless design or use of a slide which does not correspond to the matter that you are presenting can simply get in the way of the presentation. What you use should depend on the type of talk you are giving. Here are some possibilities.

Overhead projection transparencies (OHPs)

35 mm slides

Computer projection (Power Point, applications such as Excel, etc)

Video and film

Real objects – either handled from the speaker’s bench or passed around

Flip-chart or blackboard – possibly used as a scratch-pad to expand on a point

There are certain precautions that you have to take while preparing these visual aids. While preparing a Power Point presentation, if we get the slides that we are looking for, we are tempted to be over-enthusiastic about it and keep adding the slides even if it is not so essential. Be careful and don’t heed to such temptations! Keep your presentations simple because a complex set of hardware can result in confusion for speaker and audience. Make sure you know in advance how to operate the equipment and also when you want particular displays to appear. If you are assisted by a technician to operate the equipment, arrange with him beforehand, the order of the displays and what signals you would use to convey the changes. Edit your slides as carefully as you talk – if a slide is superfluous then leave it out. If you need to use a slide twice, duplicate it. And always check your slides – for typographical errors, consistency of fonts and layout.

Slides and OHPs should contain the minimum information necessary. If your slides are loaded with text matter, they become unreadable. It also may divert the attention of your audience, so that they spend time reading the slide rather than listening to you. Slides or OHPs should be used to display a few handlings which are taken as prompts. Do not simply read the material off them: supplement or explain what is written. Try to limit words per slide to a maximum of 10. Use a reasonable size font and a typeface which will enlarge well.

Typically use a minimum 18pt Times Roman on OHPs and preferably larger. A guideline is: if you can read the OHP from a distance of 2 meters (without projection) then it’s probably OK. Making coloured slides will attract the attention of the audience. But avoid orange and yellow which do not show up very well when projected. For text only, white or yellow on blue is pleasant to look at and easy to read.

Avoid using a diagram prepared for a technical report in your talk. It will be too detailed and difficult to read.

Another thing that you have to avoid is adding to OHPs with a pen during the talk. Sometimes you tend to be so immersed in your presentation that you go on drawing circles or underlines on the transparencies. It will look messy and the audience will be fascinated by your shaking hand!

It is very important to consider the proper lighting in the room where you are presenting. Too much light near the screen will make it difficult to see the detail. On the other hand, a completely darkened room can send the audiences to sleep. Try to avoid having to keep switching lights on and off, but if you do have to do this, know the light switches are and how to use them.

The chapter has also been taken from the Business Communication of SMU MBA MB0023 book.

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