Visual Aids

663 votes

One of the biggest mistakes I see over and over when I am coaching presentation skills, yes, you already know what I'm going to say. Reading the PowerPoint. It's death! Several things you should know if using visual aids.

First of all, I don't usual visual aids very often, and when I do, I use them as a take away, something tangible, like a hand out that people carry out in their hands for quick reference. If I don't do a take away, I always do a recap email to participants, reminding and refreshing what we learned in the workshop. The follow up email serves a number of purposes and I've found it be very effective.

But, I realize many of you need to use visual aids for your presentations. So, let's talk about a few things you must do to have a successful presentation if/when you use visual aids.

First, think beyond the PowerPoint. PowerPoint presentations are great and effective, but what are other options? Hand outs? Live demonstrations? Flip chart? What is the most effective visual aid for what your teaching? Just a note about handouts or any take aways, do not give them out until you have to. If you hand anything out at the beginning of a presentation, you'll have to work extremely hard to keep your audience with you because they will be looking at what you gave them, reading it, doodling on it, etc...

Now, the majority of you use PowerPoint, which is great. First and foremost, put the information you need on the slides. Two ways you can go here. Put all of the information and then deliver summary style, or put summary style on the slides and deliver in depth-maybe the better way to go, that way, you can be sure that the audience is going to listen to you, they need the information.

Now, here is the death step, that 99% of people doing presentations do. READING THE SLIDES. There are so many things wrong with this technique I don't even know where to start. First of all, it's insulting, we can read. Second, we end up seeing the back of your head so we don't build a relationship with you, which we need to do in order to buy from you or hire you. Next up, it's boring and infective, if you read me a story, I'm going to check out unless you can be very dynamic about it. So, your setting yourself up for either having to be incredible dynamic in your reading/speaking or having your entire audience check out on you.

The thing you need to do, must do in fact, is use the slides for your guidelines. I teach my clients to glance at the slide to make sure they are on track and then deliver the facts to the audience. Glance again, deliver, glance, deliver. By doing this, one you sound more like the expert, two, you're looking at the audience, engaging them with non-verbal communication which is essential to build relationships.

I find that most people use the technique of looking at the PowerPoint, almost as a crutch, because they know the material, but they are nervous. It's much easier to look at a screen than a human, way less judgment. But, it makes for a terrible presentation. A tip to not be nervous, look over the sight line of your audience. It looks like you're looking at them, but you're looking above them, a little bit safer for you. Another tip, try to spend most of your time making eye contact with the individuals in the room that are giving you positive feedback, smiling, nodding, non-verbal cues that are giving you the message that you're doing great.