Effectively Using Visual Aids to Ace Meetings and Presentations

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Consider using visual aids to enhance your message when presenting onstage or in a meeting. The benefits of using visual aids include improving memory, assisting the presenter, hooking the audience, and providing a roadmap for listeners.

In this lesson, we are going to discuss the value of using visual aids in your presentation and in your meeting. So visual aids are something that you're considered using in your presentations and in your public speaking. Then you're not going to want to miss this lesson.

All right. So the first thing that visual aids can do is to enhance understanding when you are taking in information. It's really nice to have a visual component, and it's not just true of people who are visual learners. This is also true for kinesthetic learners, auditory learners. If we see something and the speaker is sharing that same topic, but they've highlighted specific numbers or words that can actually enhance our understanding because we notice it, we start to put two and two together because we're not only getting the visual cue from the image or the words or the data or the statistical evidence, if you will.

But we're also hearing it. So the two of them combined at the same time is very powerful. It's been estimated that over 80% of information comes to us through Skype. Think of how many images and text and things that we see are bombarding us all day, right? So we're taking in a lot through our vision and through sight.

So it's really something to consider. When you were thinking about using visual aids, if you want to enhance understanding of the concept for your audience, then you definitely want to have some sort of cue there, some visual aid to help enhance and promote understanding. It really also helps to solidify the concept in the viewer's mind. The next thing that visual aids do is improve memory.

So as the speech is unfolding, as a conversation is happening, as the meeting is being done, what ends up happening is there's only so much information that we can take in. Right. It can become information overload a lot of the time. But what visual aids end up doing is it helps us remember those concepts. It helps us remember those numbers.

It helps us remember that quotation and helps us remember data points or statistics or whatever it is that you want to convey to your audience as important. And so when you have a visual aid with an important visual or an important image or a number or word, they're going to remember that so much better than they would if you just said it.

So if you can have some sort of visual cue to promote memory, then you absolutely should. And it is your responsibility. The onus is on you to select the important things for the audience to remember and to take away. And I always like to say, what is your food of your thoughts at the end of your speech? What are you leaving the audience with if they try to recall your talk or your speech or your meeting a week later, a month later, what are they going to remember from it?

Well, one of the things they might remember is whatever you had on your visual aid, because a lot of the time when we see something and we hear it at the same time, that is magic. That is what's going to help with our memory. Recall. The other value of visual aids is that they help the presenter. It's true.

They help you organize and deliver your ideas. What's great about doing something like a PowerPoint is it helps you know where you are in your speech as opposed to having some written text or even notecards because you're clicking through the slides. And guess what? You've spent time organizing those ideas in sequential order. In the order you think it makes sense to present those ideas and convey those concepts.

And you have a nice sequence there, right? So it helps you think about what's my outline? How am I going to relay this information? What is the order? Does it make sense to have anecdotes and different experiences and different data points and different examples in that spot? Or should I put them in that spot? Right. So as you were brainstorming and as you were actually creating the presentation and writing your talk or your meeting points, you'll be able to use those visual aids as well to help you understand where it should go, how, where it should lead.

What is the best sequencing of these ideas in a way that's going to make sense. And it's not only going to help you organize your ideas, it's going to help the listeners and the people who are in the audience understand, make sense of these ideas and organize the ideas in their heads right in their minds as they're taking in your information.

Visual aids can help categorize it and can help with the sequencing. So you really want to think about what sorts of visual aids, what sorts of images and texts and words and statistics, data points, help with that flow of ideas. And how does it get organized in your speech? For example, if you visually present ideas at the beginning of your speech, then they're going to know what the blueprint is.

What is the road map of your talk, of your speech? What is the agenda in your meeting? So it's not a bad idea to have a couple of strong images in the beginning of your presentation to help center and focus the talk and to give them a sense of where you're headed. What does this talk, what does this meeting encapsulate?

What are you going to go over, in other words? And if you have a strong image to show for that, then that is really going to help the listener be able to follow you more easily. So when it comes time to discuss that point later in the talk or in the meeting, they're going to be attuned to that.

They're going to be ready for it because guess what? They saw that in the roadmap at the beginning and know what to pay attention to and what to listen for. The other value in using visual aids in your presentations and in your meetings is to help maintain and gain audience attention. You want the audience to be paying attention, right?

If you're giving a speech or you're holding a meeting and people are twiddling their thumbs, they're on their phones, checking email, looking out the window, think about what they're going to have for lunch, not paying attention. Then you might be doing something wrong and your speech might be great, but your delivery might be a little bit off.

Your nonverbals may not be there. Right there. There are so many things that can go awry, even if the words that you're sharing are absolutely amazing. There are Pulitzer Prize winning words. That's one thing, but delivery needs to be there as well. And so visual aids can really come in and be a saving grace because they help bring the audience focus in, bring their attention.

And so if you put a powerful photograph on your slide, that's going to draw their attention. Now, it's very important that you know what to choose, right? If you're going to choose a not so important or poignant painting or photograph or image, then they might not be as interested. But if you do your homework and you find something that's really amazing and really drives home a point or makes a point or intrigues them or piques their interest, then you've got their audience's attention and you're going to retain the audience retention as well, which is important as well.

Right. You don't want to just pay attention to the beginning and then zone out in the middle. You want to have the audience be with you throughout. You don't want to leave anyone in the dust. And so visual aids can really help achieve this because you have something there that is drawing the audience in and they want to listen and they want to pay attention.

They want to look at it as they think “what is this?” Right. So you have to choose the right images if you're going to do this correctly. So I would take some time and not just Google any old image and find any old map. Right. Let's say it's a map that you're showing. You're doing some cartography. You want to take time to find the best possible image you have and can find to make that point and to draw the audience in and test it out.

Find a focus group or just show it to your friends and your family. See how engaged they were. Right. People don't generally want to fake their attention. You can tell when someone's really paying attention is really interested and when someone's kind of just running through the motions. Right. We know we know this instinctively as humans. We're social creatures.

So we know when someone's faking that. But the point is, test it out. If you're not, if you're unsure and you don't know what's going to have an impact, what visuals are going to have an impact, test it out. You can even do AB testing because that really works like a charm. That way you can see exactly what types of visual aids you should be, including in your presentation.

And lastly, if you are someone who is giving a speech on a sequence or a process that really needs to be in the right order, then visual aids are going to be super handy for this. So you can show it with arrows, you can show it with different designs, you can show it before and after. You can show it in steps one, two, three, four, five.

However you want to show it is up to you. Use your own creative gut feeling there and also AB test it if you feel like that is something you want to do, but you want to think about what the process is and then come up with images. You could even draw those own images if you have a knack for art or you want to try some new type of graphic out yourself, try it.

Why not? Otherwise you can find images. You can use nice text and make that sort of image friendly. And the way to do that is you have to get the order right and you have to really think about what is most representative of this part of the process. So the sequence matters, organization matters, and then the type of image needs to hearken back to that idea and to tie it nicely together.

So that's a challenge with that. But once you get it right, it's going to work really well because again, the audience has to be drawn in, they're going to think about it, they're going to see it. And then when that process comes up in their mind, guess what they're going to think of your presentation, the images that you included in your presentation are going to come to mind.

And that is an awesome thing because it shows that you really made an impact. It had a long lasting impression on them. All right. So I hope that you consider using visual aids in your next presentation, in your next meeting. They'll not only help you out in terms of how you want to organize your ideas and flesh out different concepts.

But they'll also do wonders for the audience. They'll help with the memory, they'll help with retention, they'll help with getting their drawing them men, getting their focus. They'll help with the understanding of the process and the sequencing, and it'll just be for a better presentation. Ultimately, at the end, right? It's not just the words we say. It's not just how we use our expressions, our body language, our facial expressions, our tone of voice.

That's all very important. But then if you want to add some icing on the cake, especially with public speaking and presentations and pitches and meetings, then you want to have that visual component that is very important. So I hope that you consider it. All right, exporters, thank you so much for joining me for this lesson. I hope that you enjoyed it.

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