6 Presentation Skills Tips for Visual Aids

Whether you lead a lot of meetings, or stand in front of groups making presentations, effective public speaking is a necessary skill.

Over the summer, I’ve received many requests to conduct presentation skills training. As a motivational keynote speaker and presentation skills trainer, it’s my area of expertise. And, presentation skills is a topic I love. By the end of the workshop, you can see dramatic results in everyone’s speaking ability and confidence level.

We cover many different segments such as how to handle a hostile audience, how to tell if you’re losing your audience, how to conquer your fear of public speaking and minimize nervousness, effective visual aids for maximum impact, and more. I recently shared some information regarding the importance of effective visuals.

Here are some presentation skills tips on visual aids:

  1. According to a University of Wisconsin study, learning is improved dramatically with good visuals. Studies at Columbia and Harvard found retention is enhanced up to 38% using effective visual aids. And according to a Wharton School of Business study, time taken to explain a difficult and complex subject is reduced over 25%.

  2. Use graphs for sales figures or sets of numbers showing a trend over a period of time. Graphs are pictures, and if presented well, help your audience retain the information. Avoid using more than four colors per slide. Your participants will end up focusing more on the colors than on your material.

  3. Avoid yellow, orange and pink. They don’t show up well on your slides. For contrast, use a dark background with light lettering, and a light background with dark lettering.

  4. Keep your visual aids big, bold, and simple. You want the people in the back rows to be able to read your slides, too. They should be like a billboard where even if they were driving 65 miles per hour, they could read them. Generally 22 font or larger.

  5. Try not to use more than one or two slides per minute. You want your audience to have time to digest what they’re seeing. Also, technical people tend to have a propensity to put too much material on a slide. Remember, your visual aids are simply to enhance your information, not be your presentation.

  6. To minimize nervousness and maximize confidence, rehearse with your visual aids. Print out cheat sheets with one slide per sheet. This way, even if the slides don’t show up on the laptop in front of you (and they sometimes don’t!) you know which slide is coming next. You’ll be able to have more eye contact with your audience. Think of your notes and visual aids as simply fast food for the eyes. You only want to glance at them occasionally.

Invest in presentation skills training and practice, practice, practice. Public speaking is a learned skill. And like anything else, the more you practice and rehearse (especially standing up!), the more confident and persuasive you’ll become.