Chapter 8: Using Visual Aids

Types of Visual Aids

Now that we have discussed why you should consider the use of visual aids when you deliver a speech, let’s discuss the types of visual aids that can be used in a speech or presentation. We’ll explore ones that you might already know about and maybe even suggest a few that didn’t immediately come to mind.

Your Body

Did you know that you are a visual aid? If a visual aid is anything the audience can see that helps the speaker get her/his message across, then you become the first visual aid to discuss. When you walk to the front of the room to begin a speech, you always bring an effective visual aid with you. If your speech requires a sense of physicality that would be better served by actual movement, rather than by pictures or explanation, just use your body. Just imagine a speech where a student seeks to explain the rules of football and the signals used by the referee when there is a violation. Clipping, holding, and using the hands are all well described by showing the audience with your body. Another example could be moves in tai-chi or how to make a jump shot.

Like all visual aids, plan and practice exactly what you are going to do. Ensure that your audience will be able to see all of your moves from the front, back, and sides of the room. Also check with your instructor first to determine if you are enough of an appropriate visual aid or if something different is expected or required. Explain exactly how you are using yourself and why you have chosen this path. (Your instructor will want to know that you aren’t just taking the easy route.)

Another Person

Sometimes we all need a little help from another person. In your speech, you may need a live model to demonstrate how to apply cosmetics or you may even need a Jujutsu partner to show different moves. If your speech requires you to do something with or to another human being, recruit that person in advance and practice with her/him. Recruit your person well in advance and ensure that s/he can attend your speech at the specified date and time. You don’t want an unreliable live model undermining your entire program. If you choose to use someone else as a visual in your speech, here are some bits of advice.

  • When you practice your speech, practice with your model every time. You will need to anticipate that person’s moves, behavior, and timing.
  • Tell the person what you want her/him to do in all parts of the speech. Do you want her/ him to remain seated when you are not demonstrating?
  • Advise the person not to respond or react to the audience. Too many times, a guest in the speech unexpectedly distracts the audience or the speaker when s/he should not have been the main point of focus.


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Fundamentals of Public Speaking Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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