Chapter 8: Using Visual Aids

Blackboard, White Board, or Chalk Board

Whatever you call it, the board at the front of the room can be invaluable to a speaker. Fortunately, most classrooms and many conference/meeting rooms have white boards or chalkboards available for your use. Boards are used most often when you want to write or draw something during your actual speech. Boards are also helpful if you want to display an outline or bullet points for your audience. But remember, even experienced educators find it hard to maintain contact with an audience while writing extensively on the board. Use this visual with definite awareness of the need to maintain a rapport with your audience while looking at the board. According to research compiled by Reed Markham, when a presenter plans to use a board during a speech, it is important to consider the following tips:

  • If you write a lot of information during your speech, try to write as much as you can in advance of the presentation, so you don’t lose the audience during long silences. This will require your early arrival at the speaking location.
  • Beware of “back talk. ” You never want to turn your whole back to the audience if you can avoid it.
  • Consider whether or not your handwriting is “board-worthy. ” If it isn’t, use PowerPoint or have someone else do the writing for you.
  • Remember that there are marker colors other than black and blue. You can use other colors to add zing, but do make sure that the audience can see the marker. Yellow might not be the best choice, unless your illustration necessitates it (e.g., the center of a flower).
  • When writing low on the board, check the visibility of those in the rear of the room to make sure they can see.
  • If you refer to a specific line on the board, get a laser or wooden pointer, rather than using your finger.
  • Ask ahead if there will be markers (that aren’t dried out) and chalk available, or if you should bring your own.


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