Using Visual Aids To Enhance Public Speaking

Have you ever attended a lecture or discussion where the main speaker drones on and on and you wonder if he's ever going to quit? And even if the material was interesting enough, it was too complicated to work out in your head? Yeah, we've probably all been there, which is why it's important to know how to make your public speaking skills more effective. For me the phrase "visual aids" brings back wonderful memories of countless classrooms and teachers saying, "You will be graded down without the use of visual aids!" However, if you have the right ones, visual aids can really make your speaking more effective. The most common types of visual aids are graphs, sketches, maps, scale models, charts, pictures, posters, handouts, and sound or video clips. But the number most important visual aid is you. Your appearance, including your clothing, grooming, and facial expressions, has the biggest impact on how the audience will react to your words. Consider this-- let's say you go listen to a business professional talk about how to maximize your financial success. When he takes his position behind the mic, he is wearing stained jeans and an old T-shirt, and looks like he hasn't shaved in days. You are probably not going to be very impressed with him from the start, and less inclined to take him seriously as someone with the authority to be giving you financial advice. If you look enthusiastic about your topic, dress appropriately for the subject matter, and maintain an overall respectable appearance, you will have that much more of an advantage. Other types of visual aids are generally used to enforce ideas, give a clearer understanding of the material, and throw a little variety into the mix. When creating charts and graphs for your speech, you should take into account visibility from the audience. A twelve inch font is great for handouts, but not exactly practical if you're going to be showing it to a larger group. Estimate how far your audience will be from the microphone, and see if you get a clear view of the chart. All visual aids should be relevant to the topic and pleasing to the eye. Aesthetics are extremely important, so your visual aids should be balanced with a nice color scheme. Above all don't forget to make them interesting. If you plan on using any sort of electrical equipment during your presentation, make sure you know how it works and that it is working properly. I will never forget one of my most embarrassing public speaking moments when I couldn't get the overhead projector to turn on. This takes attention away from your topic, and makes it harder for you and your audience to get back on track. One thing that I always do before public speaking is check out the room or area in which I will be presenting. This helps me get more familiar with the surroundings and decide exactly how to proceed with my visual aids. I have found that I usually get less flustered when I am more comfortable with the speaking area, and generally get a better response from the audience.