The Best Handful of Tips 20 – Visual Aid Secrets

The Best Handful of Tips 20 –  Visual Aid Secrets

Visual impressions linger longer than words.

Research has shown an audience remembers about 20% of what they hear and about 80% of what they see.  That’s why you should use visual aids.

Having carried out recall exercise in many countries I have found very similar results.   

If you use visual aids well you are more likely to have  your message remembered.

The five best tips when using visual aids

  1. Check the venue is suitable for visual aids

Check the blackout facilities.

Check the equipment to make sure it is compatible to your machine.

Make sure you have the right plugs and cords.

  1. Keep your message simple

If you are using slides, don’t use too many. Show only the best – leave out the rest.

Each slide should have a single message. Make it bold with no distractions. Don’t use complicated charts that are hard to read.

Explain the visual when you first project it and remove it as soon as you finish discussing it.

A good slide can do a lot of talking for you, especially if you are setting a scene.

Complex messages such as detailed graphs and large lists of figures should be given out as handouts and not projected.

  1. All people in the audience must be able to see your visual aids clearly

Many presentations are ruined by people not being able to see the visual aids or to read slides clearly.

Check the seating arrangements and the size, height and the location of the screen.

When preparing visual aids for projecting, pay special attention to the text – the amount, the size and the colour combinations. 

Use primary bold contrasting colours so your message can be seen easily.  (About 8% of men are colour blind so be aware of red/green problems.) Use combinations such as black or dark blue lettering on a white or yellow background. Don’t use pastel colours.

Don’t clutter your visuals. Keep your message bold with no distractions. Avoid using fancy, distracting visuals with messages flying in and out.

Keep your message simple to reinforce your spoken message.

Allow sufficient time for the audience to study each visual.

  1. Talk to your audience not to your visuals

Try not to lose eye contact with the audience.

Don’t talk to your screen. You are the main visual aid.  

Shaking laser pointers tend to distract.

  1. If possible have a ‘dry run’ prior to your presentation

This allows you to recheck the equipment for compatibility and to check you slides for clear viewing.  There is nothing worse than setting up during your talking time and finding you have an equipment failure. Prepare a backup plan just in case you have a problem. It often happens.

Distribute handouts when you have finished your presentation. (They should briefly cover your recommendations and copies of your visuals for further reference.)

Never forget showing is more effective than telling.  

-Geoffrey Moss

“Ten thousand words are not worth one seeing.”


Source: “Persuasive Ways. ‘Tricks of the trade’ to get your ideas across”. First published by  Moss Associates Ltd., New Zealand and in Chinese by the Shanghai People’s Publishing House, the Singapore Institute of Management, Kogan Page Ltd, U.K and in Hungarian by Bagolyvar Konyvkiado.  Also published as the “Secrets of Persuasion” by Cengage Learning Asia and as an e-book and sold by

                                             A Handful of Tips





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