CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – August 4, 2020
Module Nine: Delivering Your Speech (I) (PART TWO)
Using Visual Aids
Visual aids are able to:
Clarify data that may be difficult for the audience to grasp from a verbal presentation alone. Charts and graphs are especially helpful for this purpose.
Highlight your main ideas.
Help your audience remember your main ideas. Many studies have shown that an audience remembers the main points of a presentation longer if the speaker uses visual aids.
Signal transitions between major sections of your presentation.
Shorten meetings. If handled properly, visual aids can shorten meetings by allowing the speaker to spend less time clarifying and repeating the main points of the presentation.
One study has shown that presentations that include visual aids are more persuasive than presentations that do not. There is some dispute over whether the use of visual aids is simply a gimmick to cover for the fact that a presentation does not say very much – an accusation of style over substance – and there are certainly cases where this happens.
But the coherent use of visual aids will make a presentation more memorable to the audience and will allow the presenter to make his or her points more completely. Getting it right can be difficult, but if you do get it right the pay-off can be huge.
Try to avoid simply copying the visual aids you have seen used before. If you have seen them, then the chances are that your audience will have seen them too. If they were successful then, the audience will be prone to think back to that presentation and either ignore yours or constantly compare the two.
If they were unsuccessful, then it is unlikely that they will suddenly have become more effective. It is best to think of visual aids after you have written the presentation, as this will allow you to think of a coherent uniting factor between the elements you wish to illustrate.
If you can think of a visual aid that can be used interactively, then so much the better. One obstacle which presenters find they run into is the difficulty of saying something that has not been said before, or in a way in which it has never been said.
By achieving this, you will create a situation where your audience will refer back to your presentation as “remember the time when …” Having this kind of memorable impact can make your presentation a lot more effective. It should, however, not be all that people remember. Over-reliance on visual aids will simply lead to your broader message falling on deaf ears.
Checking the Volume of Your Voice
The more people there are in a room, the louder you will have to speak. People make noise unintentionally by moving around in their seats or shuffling papers.
If you find that you have to shout to make yourself heard in the back of the room, then you need a microphone. Overall, though, conference rooms tend to be built in order to allow a presenter’s voice to carry. The difficulty of getting your voice to just the right volume for a presentation is made by the fact that there are multiple rows of people viewing the presentation. In this case, it is important to take account of the seating arrangements.
Before you say anything else in a presentation, it may be a good idea to ask, in the voice you intend to use for the presentation, whether everyone can hear you clearly. The element of balance is again important here.
Speakers who are too quiet will have the obvious disadvantage that their listeners genuinely cannot hear them, as well as the fact that they will appear nervous and not in command. This does not excuse going too far in the opposite direction, which will lead people to consider you brash and over-confident, and either consciously or subconsciously give less weight to your views.
Shouting distorts the voice, and it is a simple fact that something which is shouted will not be heard as clearly as something of a similar length which is spoken powerfully from the middle of the chest. Also bear in mind that if you plan to move around the venue, you will need to make adjustments at times to ensure that your voice carries the extra distance.
If you are facing away from the audience, keep your statements during this time to a minimum, and try if possible to turn to face them during this period. If a microphone will be necessary, ensure that one is available, and tested before use – microphones can have a distorting effect which will make any presentation less worthwhile.