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How should a presenter make, collect, and arrange their audio-visual materials for a formal presentation?

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Visual aids are an important part of any presentation. They can absolutely enhance the message that a speaker is trying to deliver to an audience; however, visual aids can also be equally detrimental to a presentation.

The first thing to remember about visual aids is that their usage needs to be pre-planned. A speaker needs to know when to use the visual aid and how. For example, is the visual aid something that can or should be passed around the room? Some speakers think that giving audiences a handout is wise, but it can be detrimental too. Papers can be loud if the audience keeps manipulating the paper.

If the question is asking about a projected/displayed visual, then there are other key things to keep in mind. Anything that goes on that visual needs to be visible from all parts of the room. Be sure to use font that is big enough to be seen from the back. Additionally, a presenter should make use of something I call the "Rule of Sixes." Each slide should have no more than six points, and each point should have no more than six words. It is better to have more slides with less information than fewer slides with more information. The reason for this is that slides with too many words are intimidating and exhausting to look at for the audience. If a slide has too many words, most audience members unconsciously decide to not bother reading it. If you create a slide that nobody is going to read, then there isn't a point in having the slide.

Finally, the visuals need to enhance the presentation. They should not be the presentation. If every word out of a presenter's mouth is already on the slides, why do we need the slides? Conversely, why do we need the speaker if I can just read what is on the slides? Each visual needs to coincide with what the speaker is talking about. It can be additional words in bullet format, or it can be pictures or diagrams, but it needs to enhance and add to what is being verbally presented.

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