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How to create a presentation

Introducing visual aids

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Have you ever watched a presentation where the visual aids really made an impact? Or have you seen visual aids which helped explain a concept really well? Were you impressed? Or perhaps you have seen a presentation where the visual aids were really poor, difficult to read or confusing. How did this make you feel? What impression did these visual aids give of the presenter?

Presenting is made up of three parts. There is you - the presenter, there is the content of the presentation,and there are also your visual aids. Visual aids are used to enhance you as a presenter, and increase the impact of your presentation. They can be used as a reminder to you of the main points of your talk, around which you speak or can illustrate through diagrams or animations a particular aspect of your presentation.

Good visual aids can help explain difficult concepts, display your work, emphasise important messages and add depth to a presentation. Poor visual aids can be distracting, difficult to see or read, unprofessional, messy and detract from the quality of your oral presentation.

Activity: What will your visual aids achieve? - 15 minutes

1. Think about your upcoming presentation, how will a visual aid enhance your presentation?

2. Write down a minimum of three things you want your visual aid to add to your presentation. These may range from adhering to the rules of the assessment to showing originality at a job interview.

3. Keep a copy of these notes to use when you design your visual aids

The most common visual aid is a computer package called PowerPoint. This helps you to create slides which can then be projected onto a large screen. It can look professional when done correctly but there are always the options of overhead projectors, white/blackboards, posters, demonstrations, videos or flip charts.

Whilst PowerPoint is increasing popular, you need to decide if this is the best visual aid to use during your presentation. Working through the following task will help you to make this decision.

Activity: Decide which type of visual aid to use - 15 minutes

1. Are there any requirement or restrictions placed on you for your presentation?

2. If you are not sure if there are any: find out!

3. Does your presentation lend itself to a particular type of visual aid?

4. Decide on which visual aid will be best. If you are struggling to decide, write a list of the pro's and cons of the different types of visual aids including:

  • powerpoint slides
  • overhead projector
  • whiteboard
  • blackboard
  • video
  • demonstration

Now that you have decided on which type of visual aid to use, we will focus on what makes a good visual aid using PowerPoint slides as examples.

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