If you’re wondering how to strengthen your next presentation, try presenting with visual aids.
Visual aids only add to your presentation and can turn a potentially dull topic into an engaging subject worthy of discussion. Check out our thorough guide on how to present with visual aids, including what exactly they are, useful examples, and most importantly, how to use them successfully. Let’s dig in.
What Are Visual Aids?
Visual aids are additions you can add to your presentation that your audience can use to inform their understanding of your topic.
Visual aids are a very versatile tool and you can use them in a number of ways, including to:
- Emphasize important points in your presentation
- Make your presentation more credible
- Illustrate or even simplify complex talking points so your audience can understand easier
- Take some of the burden off yourself in terms of speaking
- Make a stronger impact on the audience
- Help your audience remember an important point
- Keep your audience engaged
- Show examples of a talking point
- Summarize information in a simple, easy-to-understand manner
What Are Examples of Visual Aids?
Because visual aids are so versatile in nature, there’s a plethora of helpful visual aids you can use in your next presentation.
The following are some examples of visual aids, and when to use them.
PowerPoints. These are useful in almost any situation when you’re presenting. As long as you have access to a computer, you should be good to go.
Handouts. Handouts are usually sheets of paper that you can then hand out to your audience. They should have useful, relevant information regarding your presentation topic. These are best used when you have a smaller audience.
Whiteboards. Although they might seem a bit old-fashioned, you shouldn’t sleep on whiteboards. They can be very useful when presenting and can be used when you’re taking suggestions or questions from the audience, brainstorming, or creating diagrams.
Flip charts. Also considered “old-fashioned” by some, flip charts might be a good option if you don’t want to bother with technology, or if you’re looking for a low-budget option.
Props. Props can describe many things based on your presentation subject, but generally they’re an object or item. For example, if you’re giving a presentation about a product you’ve designed and created, it might be useful to bring that product with you to show during your presentation.
Graphs or charts. These are helpful when you’re talking about subjects that involve numbers, as they can illustrate things like growth. Graphs and charts can easily be embedded in a PowerPoint, or on a whiteboard or flip chart. This type of visual aid can include:
- Pie charts
- Organizational charts
- Line graphs
- Flow charts
- Bar graphs
Images. Pictures can also be pasted directly in a PowerPoint presentation or on whiteboards or flip charts. These are best used when you need to show the audience something that you couldn’t otherwise, such as a picture of a specific location.
Videos. Like images and graphs, you can embed video clips directly in your presentation. These are best used in a PowerPoint, since you can include videos in more traditional presentation types, like whiteboards or flip charts.
For example, John and Hank Green — two entrepreneurs and activists who run the Youtube channel vlogbrothers — are experts in using visual aids for presentations. Check out the below video they did as a reference.
As Hank explains what actually happened at the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, pay attention to what visual aids he uses. You’ll see images and illustrations breaking down complex nuclear reactions: a great example of how to present with visual aids.
How to Present with Visual Aids
The key to how to present with visual aids successfully is actually practice. Once you’ve selected the appropriate visual aids you want to use, practice your entire presentation, including the visual aids.
This is especially important if you’re presenting via a PowerPoint. Technology sometimes fails us, so you’ll have to be prepared for an aspect of your presentation to not work. As you practice, click through each slide to ensure the visual aids are all working. A great example is video embeds: Those can be tricky sometimes, so make sure you’ve got an understanding before you present.
Here’s how it works:
1. Upload or record a video of you practicing your presentation (with the visual aids) to Yoodli.
To learn how to easily upload a video to Yoodli, check out our quick how-to tutorial below:
2. Once you’ve finished, you’ll see all the personalized feedback and analytics, such as your pacing, your filler word usage, body language, and word choice, among other important factors.
3. Use these insights to improve your presentation. For example, do you use lots of filler words? If so, consider using less by implementing strategic pauses or simply slowing your pace.
Once you’ve practiced enough that you’re comfortable and confident, you should be ready to go!
Why Are Visual Aids Important?
Visual aids are important because they help engage your audience.
They enhance your presentation by giving your listeners something to look at that, in turn, informs the way they view whatever your presentation topic is.
Visual aids can make or break your presentation, so always be sure that the aids you use make sense in terms of your presentation.
Inappropriate videos, memes, and the like shouldn’t even be considered. You’ll also want to make sure the visual aids used are relevant to your subject. You know your presentation best of all — just give it some thought when you’re selecting visuals.
The Bottom Line
Visual aids are an excellent opportunity to catch your listener’s eye and give them something to think about. Learning how to present with visual aids is a great skill that you can use in virtually any presentation.
Next time you present, give visual aids a chance — just don’t forget to practice beforehand!