To Begin With . . .

The first step is to outline your presentation, identify the major concepts and principle points you plan to make, then determine which will of these require a visual for clarity. Next, make a sketch of each visual.

Title slides are a great idea, but don't go overboard on the artwork. Ask yourself which you would rather have the audience remember - the artwork or the content. Be sure that the title will be interpreted by the audience the way you intend it to be, and check for spelling errors!

One of the early visuals often is used to break the ice, warming the audience up and getting you over the jitters (but if that's not your style, don't bother - nothing is more awkward that watching someone tell a joke when they don't posess that talent). Using an icebreaker is fine, but don't overuse cartoons. You'll want to avoid appearing shallow or superficial. Screen the contents and implications of each cartoon carefully, too.

Another common use of a visual is to introduce or acknowledge collaborators. Consider placing this near the front end of the talk. That way it will only take a few seconds early on when you feel there is plenty of time - and it won't get lost at the end of the talk when you may feel temporally constrained. Collaborators can be listed by name and affiliation, but a more effective way to acknowledge these folks is a collage of candid photos with names attached. If one or more of the collaborators is in the audience, this can be great fun, and can serve as an icebreaker (thereby eliminating one more slide - the cartoon).

OK, let's discuss 4 Important Concepts for designing effective visual aids.

Or, RETURN to the Effective presentations page.


Jeff Radel