Public Speaking Visual Aids Help
Introduction to Public Speaking Visual Aids
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Listening to someone speak is an effective way of learning, but you can add the element of visual aids to your speech to enhance the learning experience. This lesson will show you what to do—and what to avoid doing.
Good speaking is more than words, as we've said numerous times already. One nonverbal element of a good speech is the use of visual aids. Visual elements are important for several reasons. First, they grab your audience's attention. Second, they allow your listeners to use their eyes as well as their ears. Third, visual aids reinforce your ideas by providing concrete examples of abstract principles.
Visual aids refers to just about anything your audience can see. This can include those negative visual aspects we've discussed in previous lessons, such as a loud necktie (we'll take a closer look at visual distractions in the next lesson), as well as anything tangible that helps the audience better understand your words.
One of the most effective forms of visual aid is a three-dimensional object. Demonstrative speeches practically require objects to be effective, as you will want to demonstrate whatever you're talking about. A speech on how to repair a computer, for example, ought to include a real-life computer for demonstration.
But objects are not restricted to demonstrative speeches by any means. When you were a child, you undoubtedly had teachers who gave "object lessons," lessons that taught some abstract principle using a real-life object as an illustration. This is a very powerful speech technique, and it should not be limited to children. Here are some ways that you can add objects to your speech:
- Make it pertinent to your point. Simply holding up some random object is not the goal here. Your visual aid must advance your speech in some way. A clock might be useful in a speech on the history of time-keeping, but it might not be helpful in a speech on present tax rates.
- Make the connection clear to your audience. Your visual aid might seem completely unrelated to your topic (which doesn't really contradict our previous point). For example, you might in fact use a clock as a visual aid in a speech on current tax rates—if you clearly connect it to your topic by turning back the clock as you speak about returning tax rates to a former time period.
- Make sure the audience can clearly see your visual aid. Your "turn back the hands of time" idea in using a clock will only be effective if the audience can see the hands moving backward.
- Make it interactive. Simply holding up a clock while speaking about turning back time is far less effective than actually interacting with the clock, such as by making the hands move in reverse.
Printed sheets of paper can be an effective form of visual aid. In fact, they are one of the most effective forms, because they give the audience information they can literally take home with them. There is also a tactile element to a printed sheet of paper, something the audience can touch and feel, which is not available in a slide presentation.
Follow these tips when handing out printed material:
- Keep it brief. As with all visual aids, avoid the pitfall of putting too much information into your handouts. An outline works well, or bulleted points like the lists in this book. These are just short sentences and phrases that summarize the information that you have expounded on in your speech.
- Keep it simple. Don't fall prey to the temptation to show off your fonts and clip art. Stick to the reason for the handout and avoid extraneous elements that will distract a reader.
- Keep it until the end. The danger of handouts is that you cannot make your audience stop looking at them. Slides are an advantage in that respect; when you're done, you turn it off. But once you give your listeners something to read, they become readers rather than listeners. Don't distribute handouts until you're done speaking.
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