Chapter 8: Using Visual Aids
Seeing is Believing
Scene: Two students leaving an Ecology 101 special screening of the film An Inconvenient Truth, produced by Al Gore.
“Boy, that was something. I never knew that global warming was such a big deal. I kind of like it that we’ve had milder winters for the past few years.”
“Are you kidding? The greenhouse gasses are literally melting the planet. If it keeps up, Manhattan Island will be under water in fifty to one hundred years.”
“Well, what really impressed me is the way Al Gore presented all the information so clearly. Seeing those visuals really made me a believer! Those images were so convincing.”
“Remember when Gore ran for president? He was so boring and spoke in a monotone. He could have used a few visual aids then. You know, he only lost by a few votes. I wonder if some better visuals might have won him the election.”
“Hey, let’s not get into politics; we have to prepare a debate on climate change for our Ecology class. Let’s go find some visuals!”
It’s amazing what filmmakers can do when they make a big budget movie. Almost anyone can communicate well with the aid of technology and compelling visual aids. Now it will be your turn to consider how you can make use of visual aids to augment your spoken words during a speech or presentation. Have you ever had a conversation with a friend and found that after a while you were hearing the words but not thinking of the meaning or importance of what was being said? It is almost as if the words were “going in one ear and out the other.” If it is so hard to hold one person’s attention, imagine the challenge of holding the attention of 20 people or even 200 people.
In Modules 5 and 6 we discussed the need for a compelling introduction and effective delivery to capture and hold attention. Now we will add the final elements that can be used as you seek to inform or persuade. Those elements are the visual aids that you bring to illustrate your points as you present your information.
Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:
- Discuss how visual aids enhance a presentation
- Identify the Do’s and Don’ts of using visual aids
- Prepare and deliver a speech that incorporates visual aids
You should be aware by now that there are many different types of visuals to choose from as you prepare and present your speech. Graphs, charts, photographs–even your own body–might be effective additions depending upon your topic. A photograph of a soldier’s flag-draped coffin could be quite moving in a speech about the human cost of war. Likewise, a chart showing the number of soldiers killed in action over the last year might be equally effective.
Only you can choose which visuals you’ll include in your presentation. Just keep in mind the precautions we’ve discussed in the module. Make sure that any visual you choose is explained during the course of your speech. Ensure that your visuals can be easily seen by everyone in your audience, and remember to practice using your visual. Where will you stand? Where will you place the visual? Do you know how to use the necessary equipment? Let your visuals lend you credibility, not distract from your presentation. Visuals can have a place in your speech. Just remember that visuals can never replace you, your words, and your impact.