Unit 6: Creating Your Presentation Aids
Now that you have outlined the content you want to convey, you are ready to begin developing the materials you will use to support your presentation. Your presentation aids include everything from yourself (your clothing or a physical demonstration) to flip charts, handouts, models, illustrations, audio or video clips, and more common slideshow presentations like PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Prezi.
Your written and visual content should reinforce and enhance your spoken message by adding something beyond what you state directly. The key to designing successful presentation aids is to give your audience another way to access your content. The design should be simple and clear, and it should use space, color, fonts, and media in ways that help explain your message without being overwhelming or distracting.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- explain the purposes for developing and using presentation aids; and
- explain the effect different design elements have on your presentation aids.
6.1: Why Use Presentation Aids?
Your presentation aids should enhance your message, not just duplicate your spoken words. Generally, it is better to have less text. They should be aesthetically pleasing and use relevant, impactful images or multimedia to help your audience connect with your message.
Read these basic guidelines for creating and using visuals.
Read this chapter, which identifies the different purposes your presentation aids should serve.
Your presentation aids can reinforce your presentation's structure and help you transition from one point to another. They should guide the audience and keep you on track. Read this section for some tips on organizing your presentation.
6.2: Design Elements
While there are many types of presentation aids, most presenters use a slideshow. However, you can apply these basic design principles to any visual material regardless of format. Consider the four design elements of space, color, font, and media, regardless of the technology platform you use.
- Space: Use whitespace generously. Using too many words and visuals will make your slides busy, crowded, and confusing. Your audience should immediately understand what they see as soon as you reveal your slide to them. You want them
to spend their time listening to your presentation rather than deciphering your visuals.
- Color: Use colors to emphasize your points and clarify information. Avoid using too many colors, since they can be distracting, especially if they clash or are too bright or offensive. Do not use red or green for meaning, since they
can be confused by people with colorblindness.
- Fonts: Use large and simple fonts so your audience can see and read your text even in the back of the room. Avoid fancy or non-standard fonts that are distracting or difficult to read.
- Images, Videos, and Other Media: Images and videos can be useful tools to engage your audience and reinforce a point. Make sure your images do not become distorted when they are projected onto a large screen. Try to limit your use of images and video to one per slide, and be sure to fill the entire space with the image for maximal effect.
Always plan for technology to fail during your presentation: your computer could crash, you could push the wrong button, or you could lose your internet connection. The only way to respond gracefully to these failures is to be prepared and know your content. For example, you may need to describe the images or videos if they are no longer visible to you or your audience.
Read this page for more background and examples.
Read this page for more discussion and tips for developing and using different types of presentation aids.
Watch this short video, which offers a clear set of presentational aid guidelines.
- Space: Use whitespace generously. Using too many words and visuals will make your slides busy, crowded, and confusing. Your audience should immediately understand what they see as soon as you reveal your slide to them. You want them to spend their time listening to your presentation rather than deciphering your visuals.