Chapter 8: Using Visual Aids

Photographs and Pictures

People love to pass around pictures of their kids, vacations, weddings, and other life events. This is why photographs and pictures can add a familiar but dynamic element to your presentation. You can use a picture or a photograph in any type of speech, but you must consider the best time to introduce them in a speech.

One learner recently began a speech on starvation in virtual silence. She began with these words. “Before I begin my speech today I’d like to pass these photos around and then collect them in the back of the room. ” She then passed a small stack of three pictures down each row of seats. The pictures were of starving children dressed in rags. After everyone had a chance to see the photos, she collected the pictures in the back of the room. She began to speak from the back of the room. “These pictures were not taken in Africa, Asia, or war-torn Iraq. They were taken right here in America. ” She then walked slowly to the front of the room and made a point of holding the pictures in one hand as she spoke from the heart. “Yes, America, the land of plenty has plenty of hungry and starving children. I want you to help. ” She then went on to persuade the class to skip one meal a week and contribute the money to America’s Second Harvest. Did the pictures help? Definitely. The pictures and the way they were used helped get and ultimately keep her audience’s attention.

If you decide to hand out pictures during your speech, realize that you will compete with them as they travel around the room. In the example above, the learner masterfully used the pictures to gain attention and tug on her audience members’ hearts. She also managed the situation so the pictures would not compete with her words. While you can pass the pictures around a room, there are other ways they can be used during a speech. Some pictures are better displayed if they are scanned and projected onto a screen or placed in a PowerPoint presentation. If you believe passing the pictures around will distract your audience to the point of non-recovery, this may be the ideal option. If you have several pictures to show (more than three), passing them may take too much time, so PowerPoint might be a better choice. You can do as the person speaking on starvation did and pass out your pictures before you speak and then collect them. This was a masterful move on her part and did not detract from her speech. She would have to build this time into her speech, however.

Also, consider the size of your pictures. If you are using small pictures and passing them out, this won’t be an issue. However, if you place your small pictures on a poster board or hang them with tape on a white board, they won’t be seen from the back of the room. Instead, you can go to a copy shop or photo store and get a small photo blown up to a poster size for nominal cost. In most cases, this is a worthwhile investment, so you can stay in control of your visuals during the speech. If the photo is in digital format, you can always project it on a large screen.

Finally, expect that some people will have additional questions when they see photos. Tell your audience when you will accept those questions while the pictures are being passed around or after your entire presentation.


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