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Louise Harding discusses every good presenter knows a picture is worth a 1000 words.

If you've ever been a member of an audience listening to a presenter crawl their way through an uninspired monologue, murdering what might otherwise have been an interesting topic or theme, then you most probably sat there falling asleep. Perhaps you were kind, and were only doodling on your notepad? Perhaps you began checking your mobile phone for messages, or maybe even turned to chat with your colleague?

Hardly a presentation to remember, or the stuff that dreams are made from is it? So why do so many presenters detail every point to their audience when every good presenter knows a picture is worth a 1000 words.

Presentation Article and Advice about Visual Aids & Support

Every good presenter knows a picture is worth a 1000 words.

Louise Harding, Director of Photo and Image laboratory,
Strong visuals and clear images can be an important part of your presentation. Powerful images can stimulate your audience and hold their attention, whilst clear images can help communicate your key points and ensure that they remember the message.

Visual aids and support have an active part to lay in ensuring the success of your communication and the ability that it possesses to communicate directly and concisely. After all in your 20, 30, 60 minutes, or even longer presentations, how much can you really expect your audience to remember? Worse than this, how much can you really expect them to be influenced by?

If the success of a presentation is truly measured by its ability to affect its audience, and persuade members of it to alter their behaviour, how highly do you rate your chances of success?

Assumptions lead to liability

Don't be fooled into believing that cramming your next presentation full of rich and bright images will help you win your audience affections. For just as strong and clear visual images can help support your key arguments, poor image and illustration choices can leave your audience confused and irritated.

Selecting the right images, and gaining the right balance of images, is the key to reducing the amount of verbal information and detail that you must inform your audience. Reducing the amount of detail makes your words more concentrated, and their meaning greater.

Selecting the wrong images, or filling your presentation with too many images, opens the possibility for extra explanation, replacing your key arguments with narrative descriptions. Remember those dreaded holiday photos your family shows you every time you visit with every picture detailed? When you only want to know how their holiday was, you don't need to know everything they did every moment they were there.

What is a visual aid?

A visual aid is anything that visually stimulates your audience. In short it could be:

  1. Text
  2. In the form of quotes, statements and ideas, used to add greater visual impact to your slides and presentation.

  3. Diagrams
  4. Used to help illustrate a complicated or greater process.

  5. Charts and graphs
  6. When illustrating movement and trends, facts or key statistical figures, areas of little activity versus areas of growth, it is easier for your audience to understand this through charts and graphs. Reading text takes longer to comprehend and absorb than visual media, and often your audience are simply not able to "see" all the aspects of your points until it is visualized for them. As a good rule of thumb, it is wise to remember that the impact of a graph is immediate.

  7. Stock photos
  8. The use of stock photos can be an excellent way to illustrate your key points and arguments. provides high definition stock photos.

  9. Digital photos
  10. Take your own digital photos and edit them in a photo editor for example, Adobe Photoshop. They can be blended into your presentation by colorizing them to match your template. They can be used to add a personal aspect to your presentation, for example identifying members of a team etc.

  11. Animations
  12. Using flash animation in your presentation is a great way to gain attention. Whether as an introductory sequence to your presentation, or as animated titles, backgrounds, and transitions. The use of animation can help keep your audiences eyes on your presentation and key messages whilst you underline their value and importance with your verbal communication. provides many examples of Flash animation samples.

  13. Video
  14. Using digital video is one way to gain real impact and ensure your audience is not only listening, but watching as well. provide stock video footage and custom DVD video service.

Why visuals are aids?

There are many advantages to using photos, illustrations, photographic images, and graphics within a presentation. When used correctly they can:

  1. Enhance, clarify, and help in the understanding of a complicated idea or process.
  2. Grab attention and audience focus, and when used effectively, keep it.
  3. Jog memories and help recall and recognition. It is far easier for the human mind to remember a visual explanation than a series of words or phrases.
  4. Entertain your audience. Entertainment is a proven means of aiding in the understanding, and future recollection of your message and presentation.

The balance

The use of visual aids is a vital part of any presentation. Many presenters use visual aids poorly, either to access, or too sparingly.

When used badly, visual aids can have an adverse effect and cause damage to your presentation. They can create more questions and confusion than your audience might otherwise experience through pure monologue.

More than this, poor or low quality visual aids can create the wrong image for you as a presenter, and for your audience and expectations of quality and uniqueness. Imagine using clip art in your presentation, for your audience only to discover that they use the same images from a clip art collection CD in theirs!

If used correctly, visuals can clarify, entertain and inform. They can help keep your audience interested, even motivated to listen to your every word. With your audience watching your visuals and not doodling and drawing their own, visual aids can help ensure your presentation is not only remembered, but remembered for the right reasons.
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