Presented by CWiC Advisors
Harvard Business Review
After you draft an outline of your speech, you can consider interesting ways to make your points. PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi and other programs allow speakers to create impressive visual aids without years of design training. Still, these are tools used by speakers—not speakers or speeches themselves. Speakers need to exercise good rhetorical judgment when creating slides.
What can you do to prepare effective visual support for your message?
Note that CWiC Advisors teach a workshop about common PowerPoint mistakes and strategies for successfully integrating visual aids into a presentation. CWiC is a public speaking program; therefore advisors should not teach students how to use software. Penn’s Weigle Information Commons provides excellent support for students in this area. In addition to taking CWiC’s workshop about PowerPoint, you may take any of a number of Weigle WICshops, including PowerPoint.
slide: logy: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations (2008)
-Nancy Duarte (Principal of Duarte Design)
Ms. Duarte’s company, Duarte Design, created Al Gore’s presentation in An Inconvenient Truth. The book is an enjoyable read about important design principles. She attempts to change the common practices in PowerPoint presentations that are about listing bullets not creating engaging visuals.
Author of The Visual Slide Revolution, Dave Paradi provides a number of brief slide-makeovers on his site. You can also download the podcasts through I-Tunes.
Baruch College provides this great interactive tutorial about design and delivery. The design tutorial provides pairs of slides, while the delivery tutorial provides sets of video clips. The user is prompted to choose the example that best meets the guidelines. While the speaker demonstrates the importance of not speaking behind the podium (just because the computer is there), he often blocks the slides. Remember to stand to the side of the screen when you want the audience to see it. Do not turn so much that you are facing the wall. Angle yourself so that you are squared to the audience as you reference the screen. (The speaker also demonstrates a good opener and preview in the introduction and very good transitions.)
Visual Aid Videos
Terri Sjodin speaks of the importance of using PowerPoint as a visual aid and not a "crutch" to get through your own material. She makes the crucial point that "visual aids should not upstage you" and it is important to ask "Is this slide for me? Or is it for them?" If slides are only to help you get through your presentation and do not help the audience understand the material they should not be kept.
Video Length: 3:03
Pecha Kucha (a Japanese term for the sound of conversation, or "chit-chat") is a new and exciting PowerPoint format that allows the presenter to use 20 slides for 20 seconds each. This limits presentations to 6:40 an emphasizes images instead of distracting audience members with bullet points. It is important to keep in mind that a presentation should be created first and Pecha Kucha afterwards if it suits the presentation; presentations should not be made to fit visual aids.
Video Length: 6:58
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., introduces the new Apple 3G. Notice that the visual aids enhance Jobs' speech, instead of flooding the audience with too much text. Because this is a sales pitch, the product becomes the focus. Most speakers do not need visual aids throughout their presentation.
Video Length: 5:02
Sarah Scharf, a student at Stanford University, presents a marketing campaign.
Do organize your presentation. Notice how Scharf has an outline slide that clearly previews her main points in the beginning of the presentation. Also, choose relevant images and graphs.
Don't stand in front of your visual aid.
Video Length: 9:12
Visual Aid Websites
Avoiding these "sins" will make your presentation more effective. The most important advice is to spend more time working on your presentation to avoid traps that people rushing to complete a presentation often fall into.
The Seven sins of Visual Presentations. Presentation Helper.
PowerPoint inventor Robert Gaskins' website has many interesting articles, videos, and PowerPoint examples, including his own critical look at the prolific use of PowerPoint.
Gaskins, Robert. Home Page for Robert Gaskins.
Design expert and PowerPoint critic Edward Tufte's website has a number of interesting texts and examples.
Tufte, Edward R. The Work of Edward Tufte and Graphics Press.
The United States Department of Labor created this site to describe various types of visual aids, how to use them, and limitations of each. Although some of the media may seem outdated, the principles of visual aids remain the same and it is important to note that not all visual aids must be computer-mediated. This resource teaches how to evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of a visual aid.
United States Department of Labor. 2008. Presenting Effective Presentations with Visual Aids. Occupational Health & Safety Administrations.
Mike Splane clearly outlines tips that you can use while preparing, practicing, and delivering your speech. He stresses the importance of creating a background that is not distracting and provides contrast with the text. Also, he explains that charts need to be clearly labeled, and to strive for similar line lengths for text.
Splane, Mike. 2006. PowerPoint Presentation Advice. San Jose University Business School.
Sometimes, visual aids are unnecessary and take away from the points you are trying to make. Visual aids are not presentations: they are meant to aid the presentation but not substitute for it.
Sandro, Mary. 2009. How Visual Aids Undermine Your Presentation- Three Ways You May Be Boring Your Audience to Tears. ProEdge Skills, Inc.
This resource suggests using props as visual aids and supplies a list of props that can be used to enhance common themes. While these ideas may seem gimmicky, is is important to make your presentation fun and creative.
Chapman, Alan. 2009. Visual Aids.
This resource highlights some crucial PowerPoint slide design rules: Text sizes should be at least 20-24 point, images should be relevant and any distractions should be cropped out, and a preview and summary should be included.
PowerPoint Presentation Tips. 2008. Bates College.
This resource emphasizes the importance of researching your topic thoroughly in order to have quality content. Transitions can also help establish logical flow from the beginning to end. Finally, keep the unity of slide design in order to keep the audience's focus.
Saylor, Thomas. 2001. Creating and Effective PowerPoint Presentation. Concordia University.
Make your presentation personal by starting with a powerful introduction. Anecdotes, questions, and quotes are good as long as they are relevant. It is also important to show enthusiasm for the subject you are presenting.
Gallian, J. 2006. Advice on Giving a Good PowerPoint Presentation. University of Minnesota Duluth.
Free Workshops offered by David B. Weigle Information Commons throughout the year.