Have you ever attended a lecture or discussion where the main
speaker drones on and on and you wonder if he's ever going to
quit? And even if the material was interesting enough, it was too
complicated to work out in your head? Yeah, we've probably all
been there, which is why it's important to know how to make your
public speaking skills more effective.
For me the phrase "visual aids" brings back wonderful memories of
countless classrooms and teachers saying, "You will be graded
down without the use of visual aids!" However, if you have the
right ones, visual aids can really make your speaking more
The most common types of visual aids are graphs, sketches, maps,
scale models, charts, pictures, posters, handouts, and sound or
video clips. But the number most important visual aid is you.
Your appearance, including your clothing, grooming, and facial
expressions, has the biggest impact on how the audience will
react to your words.
Consider this-- let's say you go listen to a business
professional talk about how to maximize your financial success.
When he takes his position behind the mic, he is wearing stained
jeans and an old T-shirt, and looks like he hasn't shaved in
days. You are probably not going to be very impressed with him
from the start, and less inclined to take him seriously as
someone with the authority to be giving you financial advice.
If you look enthusiastic about your topic, dress appropriately
for the subject matter, and maintain an overall respectable
appearance, you will have that much more of an advantage.
Other types of visual aids are generally used to enforce ideas,
give a clearer understanding of the material, and throw a little
variety into the mix.
When creating charts and graphs for your speech, you should take
into account visibility from the audience. A twelve inch font is
great for handouts, but not exactly practical if you're going to
be showing it to a larger group. Estimate how far your audience
will be from the microphone, and see if you get a clear view of
All visual aids should be relevant to the topic and pleasing to
the eye. Aesthetics are extremely important, so your visual aids
should be balanced with a nice color scheme. Above all don't
forget to make them interesting.
If you plan on using any sort of electrical equipment during your
presentation, make sure you know how it works and that it is
working properly. I will never forget one of my most embarrassing
public speaking moments when I couldn't get the overhead
projector to turn on. This takes attention away from your topic,
and makes it harder for you and your audience to get back on
One thing that I always do before public speaking is check out
the room or area in which I will be presenting. This helps me get
more familiar with the surroundings and decide exactly how to
proceed with my visual aids. I have found that I usually get less
flustered when I am more comfortable with the speaking area, and
generally get a better response from the audience.
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