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Using Visual Aids in Public Speaking Engagements

Do you remember “show and tell”? For many of us, that was our introduction to public speaking. And, it is still a good format. Many top-notch speakers do not use visual aids, but for the rest of us, they can still be a big help in getting our point across.

Visual aids are anything that demonstrates or “shows” what you are talking about. The typical visual aid used by many speakers today is the ubiquitous PowerPoint slide show. They are easy to prepare, very portable and shareable. You can jazz them up with pictures, videos, and charts and graphs. But, they are not the only option. You can use white boards or flip charts, posters, handouts, costumes, giveaways, and more as visual aids for your presentations.

Home party shows use their product as visual aids. The Tupperware lady or the Jewelry party host uses the items they are selling as visual aids during their demonstration. You can do the same thing by using samples of your product to “show” your audience what you mean during your talks without turning your speech into a sales pitch.

For instance, if you are talking about “safe toys for toddlers”, you can bring samples of toys to show your audience what to look for. If you are speaking about “organic gardening”, you could show samples of organic fertilizers. If you are talking about “how to care for a hamster”, bring the hamster.

People learn and remember more if you involve more than one of their senses. Listening is actually one of the poorer senses for learning, but it’s often the only one used. If you can find a way to get your audience to also see, feel, taste and smell what you are talking about, you will have enhanced the experience for them and your information will stay in their memory longer.

Depending on your topic and your audience, if you can actually have them participate and “do” something, that adds another layer of experience and memory, and is another type of visual aid. Anytime you can get the audience involved, you will create a deeper bond. Even something as simple as asking them questions or asking the audience to pass around a visual aid so that everyone can see and touch it can help.

When preparing your presentation, ask yourself “How can I get the audience involved? How can I “show” them what I am telling them?” If you add visual aids to your presentation, you will find that it helps you make a more lasting impression and a deeper connection with your audience.

If you need help brainstorming ideas for visual aids, visit this Visual aids thread in the SOHO forum.



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