Visual aids for presentation

Visual aids come in many forms. They can be useful if they help the audience to understand or remember your key message, but they can also be a major distraction.

Woman standing in lights

Visual tools come in many forms.

Body language

You are the biggest visual aid. You are what the audience will look at most. How you move can help to reinforce what you say, or it can provide a major distraction.

Use your hands to convey information and back up what you say. For example, prices are rising (hands go up), unemployment is falling (hands go down), the gap widened (hands move apart). Use your hands to emphasise some points, but don't distract the audience by moving your hands around in a way that is unrelated to what you are saying. 

Body movement can help to keep your audience engaged, but repetitive movement can also be a major distraction.

Eye contact is important to build trust and engagement.


Slides are one of the most common forms of visual aid. They can be useful to convey information, emphasise your key points and to help the audience remember what you said. They can also be a major distraction. Don't use too many slides. Many sure that your slides reinforce what you are saying. They should emphasise your key points, and not provide a lot of unnecessary detail. Most people are visual learners, so imagines can help to illustrate or emphasise what you are saying, and help the audience to remember what you are saying.

However, images can also be a disaster and a major distraction. They can create confusion, and draw the audiences attention away from you, and the key message your are trying to deliver.

If you are giving a talk with slides, make the slides only AFTER you have made a storyboard. Don't use the defaults from the software you are using; decide before you sit down at the computer how you will start, how you finish, and what the visual cues are that will help to deliver your key message to your target audience.

Edit your slides ruthlessly. Don't use too many words. Don't use jargon or acronyms. Keep your slides focused on your key message, and keep your audience in mind.


Skip to main content