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How to Make a Visual Presentation

Published: 11.08.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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Woman giving a presentation. Foto.Giving a presentation Today’s generation of students are more visual than earlier generations and used to viewing visual media in  all its forms. Therefore, it is only natural that speakers  and lecturers make use of the visual possibilities modern presentation tools have to offer.

Students and teachers who want to make their presentations available for others can move them directly to a website or one of the learning
management systems such as: Fronter or It’s Learning. Here are some of the advantages to using a presentation tool.

Use Visual Presentation Tool

  • to visually organize your talk and make it easier for  the speaker as well as the audience to follow.
  • to make your presentation more visually interesting by using colorful fonts, designs, graphics, and multimedia resources: external links, pictures, animations, video  and sound.
  • to emphasize important points and information.
  • to illustrate explanations.
  • to reach audiences with various learning styles.
  • to keep the audience attentive and focused.

Less is More

One of the most common mistakes when using presentation tools is overburdening (tynge ned) the presentation with too many visual elements: pictures, animations etc.  It is a good rule of thumb to keep it simple. The rule, “less is more” should be applied to any presentation. Too much information and too many special effects can be confusing for an audience and distract from the main message. Write an outline first. (See Outline of an Oral Presentation) Never read everything you have to say from a PowerPoint/Impress slide, use bullets.

Know Your Audience

Always be sure you know to whom you will be giving your presentation. A common mistake is using the wrong visuals and audios in front of the wrong group. Giving a presentation in front of a class of teenagers, whom you already know, will be different than giving a talk in front of a group of parents or a special group of working professionals.  One should gear the use of multimedia, graphics, design and audios/ visuals to the age group. Visual signals may differ from age group to age group. If the talk is supposed to be a serious one based on The Melting of the Ice Caps, you don’t want to put in loud flashy fonts and funny graphics and clip-art. Design accordingly!

Principles of Good Design

Choose the same color scheme, font size/s, type/s and bullet style on all the slides. Choose one design/layout on the master slide and keep to it. Too many font sizes, colors and types can make your presentation visually confusing where the audience has a hard time figuring out what is most important. Always think of what you want to organize (regular fonts) and what you want to emphasize (Bold, Italics, underline)

Keep it simple and concise
Be sure to limit the amount of information per slide.
-    three to five slides with text per major heading
-    one main heading per slide
-    not more than six to seven words per line
-    not more than six to seven lines per slide
-    use bullet points under your major headings

Use big fonts
Depending on the room in which you will be giving your presentation, titles could be up to 36 -40 points in size and text 24 points in size. A common mistake is a presentation written in too small a font size where the audience cannot see the words from the back of the room.

Using big letters reduces the space available for graphics. Also remember that elements in your presentation do well with some space around them. Thus you should not use bigger text size than required.

Color contrast
You should always contrast text and background. Either use a light text on a dark background or a dark text on a light background. You may have to take the lighting in the room into consideration. In a bright room, for example, where you cannot close the curtains, use a light background and a dark text. Think visual balance!

Images,  graphics and animation

Images , graphics  and clip art should always compliment the text. A good idea is to limit the number of pictures, charts or graphs to one per slide. Pictures can easily be grouped together. Don’t spread them out on all sides of the text. Be sure that the colors of the images match those of the background. And, of course, adjust the size of the image, graphic or clip art to the slide.

Remember that “less is more”; however, if you are going to use animation to highlight text, don’t abuse it. Your audience may get caught up in a fast moving text transitions and miss the entire point of your message. Choose a transition speed that is easy to follow.

Movies and Sound
Movies and sound to demonstrate or support your information should always be chosen with care. To avoid any risks that an external link to a video or music website might not work on the day you are giving your presentation, it is a good idea to download both movie/video bits as well as sound clips directly to your computer. This way you can easily insert them into your presentation. It is also possible to synchronize sound clip and slide.

Rehearse Beforehand

As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect” and presenting a presentation is no exception. A common mistake is thinking that quickly clicking through your slides at home the day before your presentation is sufficient preparation. It is necessary to time your presentation and make sure that each technical feature works according to plan. Talk through each slide as if you were giving the presentation. And by all means, make sure that the projector and cables in the room work correctly beforehand!


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