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Visual aids

Visual aids can provide support or extra information about what you say during your presentation. They can provide clarification about the content in your oral, and can also make it a lot more interesting - why describe something when you can show a great picture of it? But they can be a double-edged sword - badly prepared or inappropriate visual aids can distract the audience, or make your oral seem confused or unprofessional.

You can use photos to show an object you’re talking about. Statistics can be shown using graphs - but make sure you pick a graph that shows only the relevant information, and make sure it is well designed.

Videos can be very useful, but there are a lot of bad things that can happen. For a video or DVD, you need to make sure that the video is cued to the right point and ready to play. There’s nothing more annoying than having to wait for the presenter to fast forward or rewind a video tape, or go through all the DVD menus and then fast forward to the correct spot. Make sure the lighting is low enough or can quickly be lowered so that the audience can see the image on the TV or projector screen. Make sure you check beforehand that the video or DVD plays in whatever player you’re using.

If you’re using video in a PowerPoint presentation, make sure that you:

  • Have the video file in the location that the PowerPoint presentation thinks it is in.

  • Have the right video codecs installed on your computer so that the video can be played properly. The video codecs are little bits of software that help the video player software on your computer decode the compression in the video file. If this sounds a little technical, talk to a friend who is ‘in the know’ about computers.