Picture this: The speaker is announced and rap music begins to play. The speaker struts onto the stage wearing a faux fur coat, a broad-rimmed hat and dark sunglasses. Once he arrives at center stage, the music dies away and he begins to share with you the evolution of rap music, eventually removing the coat, hat and glasses.
This speaker is an excellent example of creatively using visual aids to support a speech. Whether you are speaking to a Long Beach audience or a Lithuanian audience, your use of visual aids are meant to add information, ambiance and to set the tone.
The speaker illustrated above helped his audience get an idea for early rap culture by dressing the part. He added a visual to his words that was powerful, effective and memorable.
In today’s technology flooded world, you have a multitude of choices for visual aids. You need to carefully and strategically select them. In addition, always be prepared with a Plan B, just in case technical difficulties prevents you from using your prepared visuals.
Visual aids should be used to add emphasis to your point … not make the point for you. The key word in the phrase “visual aid” is “aid.” A visual aid aids you in making your point, but you still need to be able to make that point without the visual aid.
Here are some tips for preparing and using visual aids:
- When using slides, such as KeyNote or PowerPoint, less is more. Use images that illustrate your words rather than actual words on the slide. If you must use words, use only enough to trigger your point. You don’t want your audience reading your slides rather than paying attention to you.
- Make sure your visual aids aren’t distracting. When not being used, turn off the slides. If you’re using physical visual aids, put them to the side or behind the lectern so that your audience isn’t looking at them wondering what they’re there for instead of paying attention to you.
- Practice using your visual aids so that you can use them gracefully during your presentation. You don’t want to distract from your message by fumbling with your visual aids.
Effective speakers know how to use visual aids with grace and ease, and they know how to adeptly handle things when visual aids become visual disasters. Be prepared to be surprised. And be OK with those moments you aren’t prepared for. You’ll learn. You’ll grow. And you’ll become an even better speaker in the process.
Would you like more information about public speaking? Visit PublicSpeakingSuperPowers.com for tips, advice and plenty of videos about all the “powers” you can employ in your speaking endeavors.
NOTE: Are you a Long Beach based speaker? Do you know of an upcoming speaking event? Contact me to have an interview with you published in this column.