The purpose of this discussion is to provide basic, comprehensive information to assist you in developing effective presentations. The use of visual aids, coupled with good public speaking skills, work hand-in-hand to create effective presentations. Your speaking style and stage presence are personal talents that you can refine with much practice and experience. Each aspect of effective presentations, however, could not be detailed in this discussion. Instead, much emphasis is given to visual aids which are essential to all successful presentations.
DESIGNING THE PRESENTATION
There is no secret to developing an effective presentation. Establishing your objectives, planning and organizing your material, and using appropriate visual aids are the essential ingredients. The recipe for effective presentations calls for all three ingredients, and you must use them in the order in which they are presented here. By establishing your objectives first, you can prepare material that supports each objective. The use of visual aids will move you further along toward your objectives by illustrating and emphasizing your ideas more effectively than words alone. Let’s begin, then, at the beginning: As you start to design your presentation, you must ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish by making this presentation?”
Establishing the Objectives
For any successful presentation, you must know your objectives. It is these objectives that drive your presentation and move the audience to your end goals. Your end goals may be that the attendees take a particular action, adopt a new perspective, or respond to facts and information. Establishing these goals requires careful planning. The key to designing your presentation is determining these objectives. After all, they become the foundation upon which your content, organization, and visual aids are built.
Establishing the objectives for your presentation requires an analysis of your own goals, as well as your audience’s needs and expectations. By considering the nature of your audience, you can more easily determine what you will present and how you will present it. An audience analysis will enable you to:Select appropriate points of emphasis in your presentationDevelop a useful level of detailChoose and prepare appropriate visual aidsCreate a tone that is sensitive to your audience’s circumstanceYour presentation will ideally form a bridge between something you have and your audience wants. Let the audience analysis influence the form of information presented so you can create this bridge.
Planning and Organizing Your Material
When you have determined the characteristics of your audience, then you are ready to plan and organize your material. The tips listed below will assist you in tailoring your approach accordingly. Keep in mind that the use of visual aids will help to produce effective one-way or two-way communication. Many factors are involved in choosing these visual aids, and the type of interaction you want to develop with the audience will influence your choice.
Planning Your MaterialDo not wait to prepare your presentation while on you way to the training session. You cannot do your best at presenting or persuading by “winging it.”At a minimum, prepare an outline of goals, major issues to be discussed, and information to be presented to support main themes.Limit content to your major point and no more than five key supporting points.Analyze your audience. Prepare your content considering such things as whether they are likely to be friendly or unfriendly, lay or technical in their background, and whether they want only to listen or to respond and contribute.Select appropriate visual aids and a presentation style that will be effective in the physical setting for your training session.Organizing Your Material
When organizing your material, consider an “old chestnut” of public speaking – “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em; tell ’em; and tell ’em what you told ’em.” This recommendation:Recognizes the importance of reinforcement in adult learningCompletes the communication for the listenerInforms people who arrive late of what they missedRecognizes the importance of organization, highlighting, and summarizing main points for the audienceServes to clarify main themes for the audience at the end of the presentationUsing Visual Aids
Visual aids help your presentation make things happen. Visual aids help you reach your objectives by providing emphasis to whatever is being said. Clear pictures multiply the audience’s level of understanding of the material presented, and they should be used to reinforce your message, clarify points, and create excitement.
Visual aids involve your audience and require a change from one activity to another: from hearing to seeing. When you use visual aids, their use tends to encourage gestures and movement on your part. This extra movement reinforces the control that you, the speaker, need over the presentation. The use of visual aids, then, are mutually beneficial to the audience and you.
Visual aids add impact and interest to a presentation. They enable you to appeal to more than one sense at the same time, thereby increasing the audience’s understanding and retention level. With pictures, the concepts or ideas you present are no longer simply words – but words plus images. The chart below cites the effectiveness of visual aids on audience retention.
People tend to eye-minded, and the impacts visual aids bring to a presentation are, indeed, significant. The studies, below, reveal interesting statistics that support these findings:In many studies, experimental psychologists and educators have found that retention of information three days after a meeting or other event is six times greater when information is presented by visual and oral means than when the information is presented by the spoken word alone.Studies by educational researchers suggest that approximately 83% of human learning occurs visually, and the remaining 17% through the other senses – 11% through hearing, 3.5% through smell, 1% through taste, and 1.5% through touch.The studies suggest that three days after an event, people retain 10% of what they heard from an oral presentation, 35% from a visual presentation, and 65% from a visual and oral presentation.The use of visual aids, then, is essential to all presentations. Without them, the impact of your presentation may leave the audience shortly after the audience leaves you. By preparing a presentation with visual aids that reinforce your main ideas, you will reach your audience far more effectively, and, perhaps, continue to “touch” them long after the presentation ends.
ADDING THE VISUAL DIMENSION
Visuals add an important dimension to a presentation, and you, the speaker, must capitalize on this dimension. It is critical that you prepare visual aids that reinforce your major points, stimulate your audience, and work well in the physical setting of your presentation.
Visual aids and audio-visuals include a wide variety of communication products, including flip charts, overhead transparencies, slides, audio-slide shows, and video tapes. Demonstrating a process or simply passing around a sample of some equipment or model are also effective way to clarify messages visually. If visual aids are poorly selected or inadequately done, they will distract from what you are saying. The tips listed below will help you in the selection and preparation of visual aids.