There are only 2 reasons to use visual aids:

  1. add impact
  2. help explain something.

Resist the temptation to produce an endless series of dot-point slides with the odd graphic thrown in.

Preparing your visual aids – 10 tips

  1. The most important visual aid is you, the presenter

Don’t hide behind your visual aids or use them as speech notes. Step out in front and let people see your natural style and enthusiasm.

  1. Less is more

Don’t overuse slides. Use them in sections of your talk where they will have the most impact.

  1. Turn it off

Press the ‘b’ key on your computer in PowerPoint (for ‘black’ or ‘blank’) to return people’s attention to you.

This makes your presentation more interesting for the audience as well as changing the pace.

  1. One idea

Have one idea per visual aid.

  1. Text 6 x 6

Keep text on slides to a maximum of 6 words across, and 6 lines down.

  1. A picture tells a thousand words

Photos, graphics and figures have more of an impact than words, and can help you explain complex ideas.

Use graphs instead of tables.

Make diagrams clear and easy to understand at a glance and from a distance.

  1. Go 3D

Don’t use 2-dimensional images on a screen when you can use an object to help you explain a concept or tell a story.

This works best in small groups.

Make sure you stop talking while everyone is looking at it or allow time for people to look, touch or smell it at the end of your talk.

  1. Variety is the spice of life

Great speakers try to do something different every 7 minutes.

It might be as simple as turning off the projector and take a step towards the audience; or using a variety of pictures, fonts and colours, or short animations.

Build variety into your presentation, but don’t go overboard or you may just confuse or distract your audience.

  1. Review your slides

Make sure each of your slides is necessary. For each one, ask yourself:

  • Does the slide help the audience understand something?
  • Does the slide add impact to my presentation or help people remember an idea?
  • Does the slide clarify my words?

If you answer no to all of these questions, maybe your slide is more like a note to yourself about what to say. Delete it and move onto the next slide.

  1. Edit your slides

Make each one readable from a distance, brief, colourful and simple.


Delivering with your visual aids


  • know how to use the equipment
  • be familiar with the venue
  • speak about what is on the visual
  • turn the presentation off to return attention to you
  • use pointers with care.


  • block the audience’s view
  • read text on visuals
  • turn away from the audience too much
  • talk about something that is not on the visual.