Visual Aids

• When to Use Visual Aids

1. Use a visual aid to help the audience learn something, remember something, clarify or organize something, or to help strengthen emotional response.
2. Remember that a visual aid is by definition visual. Don't just show the audience a block of text.
3. Remember that a visual aid by definition helps the speech.
Don't use a visual aid to accomplish goals which you can accomplish just as effectively (or more effectively!) without one.
4. Every persuasive argument boils down to a single "magic word," a one-word reason why your audience should do things your way. Your way, for example, will save them MONEY. Your way is EASIER. Your way is FUN. Figure out what your speech's "magic word" is, and use the visual aid to show that to the audience.

• How to Prepare Visual Aids

1. The message of each visual aid should be concise, clear and memorable.
2. Don't put two aids onto one surface.
Minimize text — but all text you do use should be horizontal.
4. Every word should be legible, and visible to every person in the room.

5. Don't abbreviate, unless the abbreviation is in common use.
6. Color should be used to contrast, highlight or symbolize — not merely to decorate.
7. Proportions should be represented honestly.
8. Don't title visual aids, unless the title makes a point.

• How to Use Visual Aids

1. Show visual aids only when you are talking about them.
2. Talk about visual aids only while you are showing them.
3. Show visual aids so that everyone in the audience can see them.
4. Talk to your audience, not to your visual aids.
5. Don't pass objects around the audience during your speech.
6. Practice using your visual aids, both in front of the mirror and in front of an audience. You should be able to show, discuss and cover your visual aids without having to look at them!


Return to CST 110 Handouts.

Return to Teaching.

Return to Home