Even if you are a confident, seasoned speaker, you still need to connect with your audience with terrific content and visual aids. Knock Ďem dead with your words and the visual aids you use in order to truly have audiences on the edge of their seats!

How can you get a crowd of hungry or tired conference attendees interested in your presentation? How can you stand apart and be remembered out of a series of speakers?

Be daring and different. Seek untraditional methods to relate your information. Investigate all your options and all resources. Never rule anything out.

Supplement Your Presentation with the Internet's Help
The Internet has a wealth of information that presenters can use Ė many of it is free

Charts, graphs and other statistics can be found easily by using various Internet search engines (Yahoo.com and Lycos.com are two good ones) for sites related to your topic.

Many Web sites exist that offer speakers a variety of visual aids to download or print. Sometimes itís as easy as printing a list of hot tips; other times you may want to use more high-tech animation or purchase equipment.

Many Web sites offer "Shareware" Ė allowing you to sample a presentation graphic, sound bite, or other software. If you like what you downloaded, after a certain time frame, these Shareware developers expect to be compensated for their product. Itís an unspoken rule.

Remember that some people are more auditory learners than visual. With this in mind, look for interesting audio files on Web sites that you can incorporate into slide shows. The more senses you can connect to with audience members, the better your chances to captivate more people. The future of information technology is directly connected to the Internet, and itís the best way for presenters to have a global library of facts, figures, and graphics a mouse click away. Many CD-ROM packages for sale offer presenters similar options to what is found on the Internet.

Tad Simons, editor of Presentations magazine, cautions, however, "Presenters who take information off of the Internet should be aware that copyright laws apply to articles, pictures, audio files, and graphics on the Web as well. Just because itís on the Web doesnít mean itís free for the taking Ė you need to get permission from the copyright holder in order to reuse it, or else you could be inviting a potential lawsuit."

Itís terrific to use exciting visual aids and unconventional graphics during a presentation. The danger is to make sure you donít look like youíre just doing a data dump or trying to use tricks to cover up a lack of relevant or informative content.

Options That Are Out There
Presenters have to carefully consider their audience, its needs, and the overall objective of the speech before deciding which visual aids to use. If you are presenting to a high-tech crowd, for example, using only a flip chart simply wonít cut it.

Keep an open mind on these options:
Slide shows/Computer-generated graphics
One of the best software packages out there for creating engaging, dynamic visual aids is PowerPoint. I like its ability to create exciting, colorful templates that can be used very effectively in a team presentation to maintain consistency of the visual aids used. I also use a remote mouse to control presentations that I show on my laptop. A few handy tips that not too many presenters know about PowerPoint Ė if you click the "b" key on your keyboard you get a black screen. If you hit "b" again it brings you back to the same slide you were just viewing. This comes in handy if you want to pause between slides without showing the next one. Clicking a "w" is the same as the "b" key, only it gives you a white screen. Using the period "." also works the same way.

A video works well if you need to convey motion in a presentation graphic. The video is also a great tool to convey an actual episode in life. Watching a video helps make a flagging audience more alert. It becomes almost like a theatre experience Ė watching the new action thriller.

Although it is a low-tech option, presenters can still use overheads and effectively convey a sense of professionalism and their message. The overhead projector can help the presenter interact with the audience Ė writing additional points or comments throughout a speech on the actual overhead can snap an audience member to attention. Overheads are also necessary as backup in case your projection system and computer crash.
This visual aid option also allows for spontaneity and is good for displays. You need to be savvy with computer-connected boards and related software.
The oldest visual aid around, back before the days of fancy electronics, the flipchart can still be a highly effective way to convey points during a presentation. If the speaker is a good illustrator, the flipchart becomes an even better way of capturing audience attention.
If appropriate, consider using your own product if it is large enough to be seen by the audience, yet small enough to manage. Never pass products around during a presentation Ė it can be distracting. Props also can be used to create imagery. I use a magicianís hat in my "Market Your Magic" speech. Itís a very effective way to tie in my theme and make people pay close attention to what Iím doing. Another prop I use is a bar of soap to convey my ideas about packaging. Consider what you can use that will help people remember your message.

Presentations magazine editor Simons says, "Itís all too easy to go overboard on the nifty graphic options that come with PowerPoint. The key to using presentation software in a sophisticated way is to boil down key concepts into an arresting visual image Ė one that communicates what you are trying to say without creating a lot of excess visual noise."

Itís important to remember that visual aids should not replace your content. They are not supposed to be your notes or relate every idea that you are talking about. Instead the visual aid is best used when it relates key points or concepts to remember. Short statements or sentences that help audience members remember and act upon your message are especially valuable to use.

Ultimately, the best thing to do is use a combination of the low-tech and high-tech visual aid options Ė allowing you to connect better with audience members and keep their attention riveted to you.

About Marjorie Brody
Reprinted from The Presenters University (www.presentersuniversity.com). Article copyright 2000 Marjorie Brody, MA, CSP, CMC. Reputation is everything and Marjorie Brody stakes her reputation on enhancing yours. Marjorie is an internationally recognized expert and motivational speaker on career enhancement and corporate etiquette. Her message ignites the passion and purpose of audience members to unleash their potential and polish their skills, motivating them to move from ordinary to extraordinary. She is author of 15 books, including Speaking is an Audience-Centered Sport, Complete Business Etiquette Handbook and the four-booklet series 21st Century Pocket Guides to Proper Business Protocol. Marjorie can be reached via e-mail at mbrody@brodycomm.com, or visit her Web site at www.marjoriebrody.com

1. John Kenneth Galbraith

Related Articles
Meeting Video Recommendations

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.

























Send this Article
to a Friend

SubscribeAbout UsContact UsLegal