Chapter 8: Using Visual Aids

Emphasize Ideas Through Both Sight and Sound

Your words provide the sound element to the speech experience. Visual aids emphasize your content by helping the audience connect your content to something tangible. For example, let’s say you are giving an informative speech -explaining how something works. You choose to discuss the inner workings of a pop-up turkey timer. Maybe your audience has never seen an actual pop- up turkey timer or your explanation of the turkey timer might not be as clear as you’d like. In this case, you would want the audience to see the object and the process. You could either bring in an actual pop-up timer or use pictures in a PowerPoint presentation to show the process. If you are giving a demonstration speech, you would want to use visual aids to authenticate every step of a process. Your audience will actually learn by seeing how to make a stained glass window or rocky road brownies by having the tools or ingredients in front of them.Consider a eulogy delivered in front of a large picture of the deceased. Maybe the attendees even have a program in their hand with stories and pictures celebrating that person’s life. Or, on a lighter note, how many weddings or graduation parties have you attended where the lights go down, and suddenly a video or PowerPoint presentation shows highlights from the life experiences of the honorees? These visual depictions are usually the hit of the celebration.

In persuasive speaking, visual aids lend an equally dynamic element to a speaker’s argument. Charts and graphs can bring key statistics or facts to life, such as in a speech about famine in third world countries. Photos can help the audience truly see the extent of a problem. If a speaker plans to ask the audience to sign a petition or donate money, handouts or other paperwork can give the audience an immediate way to respond.

In all types of speeches, visual aids give words and ideas dimension. Could those words and ideas come to life without a visual aid? Yes. However, there are times that a visual aid adds that extra touch to magnify a speaker’s thoughts. As a speaker, you will come to identify those occasions when -excuse the cliché -a picture is worth a thousand words.


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