Chapter Choosing visual aids

Bottom line

Don't always use the same type of visual aid—each type has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Some older books on speechmaking cautioned against visual aids: "Don't rely on them too much," they'd say. "Don't use them as crutches." But the standard for those books was the immobile speaker standing behind a lectern, declaiming to the audience for 30 minutes.

Things have changed.

Today, almost all business speakers use visual aids. One reason is technology: many of us can produce them rather easily at work. Another is that we've learned their advantages—for us (as speakers) and for our audiences:

• They keep us aware of where we are in our presentation.

• They keep the audience aware of where we are in our presentation.

• They visually reinforce our words: the audience can see an idea and hear about it at the same time.

• They emphasize important ideas.

Once you get used to speaking with visual aids, you'll rarely want to speak without them. The advantages are too important.

This chapter will help you choose the best type of visual aid for your presentation. We'll consider the advantages and disadvantages of these (the most common types people use):

• overhead transparencies

• 35-millimeter slides

• computer presentations

• blackboards and whiteboards

• objects and models

• imaginary visual aids

• handouts as visual aids

By the way, if you find that speaking is a significant part of your job, you'll certainly want to investigate computer presentations.

They used to be the future, but now they're the present.

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