Giving an oral presentation, especially for an important event, might be a great responsibility and hence fairly stressful. Merely preparing speaking notes is not enough as visual media are becoming increasingly critical. Arguably, a successful presentation must employ visual aids adequately to communicate its main points through the written word, pictures, videos, and animation. Even though necessary software such as Microsoft PowerPoint is commonly available, confusion remains as to effective use of such tools.
Effective Use of Software
- Use a remote control. Taking control of changing the slides allows you to move freely, be more expressive, and maintain eye contact with the audience. In contrast, having to return to your laptop or other device disrupts the natural flow and distracts the audience from the points you are making.
- Make sure the screen is visible for each member of the audience. Nervous apprehension, commonly known as stage fright, may cause you to pay less attention to your posture and surroundings. To avoid moving chaotically and standing in front of the screen, it is essential to become familiar with the venue before the presentation.
- Allow the audience to perceive the information at their own pace. Rapidly changing slides may appear inconsiderate. While you are undoubtedly familiar with all the information being presented, the audience needs some time to apprehend the contents, make connections, and draw conclusions.
- Have a backup plan. Technology, whether electronic devices or software, is not always reliable. Thus, be sure to put together a backup plan. This might include preparing handouts for a smaller audience or resorting to giving a speech with no visual aids.
Visuals serve a number of purposes in a presentation, including the following:
- To illustrate. Sometimes it is necessary to provide visuals to highlight or clarify crucial points. Example: a graph showing an increase in the birth rate.
- To complement. Some pictures set a context or add new information to what is being said.
- To explain. When words are not enough to convey a point, a picture might be more telling. Example: a photograph of polluted areas in the wild that reveals the gravity of the situation.
- To enhance the aesthetics. Even for an engaging speech, a visually pleasing presentation will help you stand out as a speaker. Elements used for aesthetics might include a company logo and other attributes of corporate style.
- To strengthen your connection with the audience. It is becoming more common to use funny pictures, GIFs, and even Internet memes in otherwise serious presentations. This practice offers certain advantages: undoubtedly, a well-placed picture can serve as comic relief and make the audience more open to the content of the presentation. However, avoid abusing such an opportunity; do not allow jokes to distract viewers from the gist of the presentation.
- Put only absolutely necessary text information on slides. Experts debate how many words, points, or lines one slide is allowed to contain. Currently, there is no general consensus: some claim that more than six words per slide is excessive, while others defend six lines or three main points. It might be reasonable to check the guidelines of the event for which you are preparing a presentation.
- Be consistent in your style. Visual consistency is vital for both aesthetics and reading comprehension. The font and color scheme should remain consistent throughout a presentation. The font size should be adjusted as per the guidelines provided by the curator or organization, but usually, the size is anywhere between 18 and 48 points. A basic font such as Times New Roman or Arial makes a good impression. Fancy or italicized fonts are not as readable, especially when viewed from a distance.
- Avoid lengthy sentences unless it is a quotation. Also avoid abbreviations and acronyms, which might be somewhat confusing unless explained orally in the body of the speech.
Recent technological advancements have significantly facilitated the process of creating presentations. Strong visuals serve the purpose of accentuating the points you are making in a speech, a combination that comprises a convincing and engaging presentation. In this endeavor, it is important to follow specific guidelines to ensure that your presentation will be visually pleasing, concise, and readable. Every illustration should serve some purpose, whether explanatory, complementary, or aesthetic. In the written content, seek to underscore the main points and avoid putting unnecessary details on the slides. Help your audience feel comfortable by standing at a distance from the screen, giving the viewers adequate time to take notes, and using a remote control.