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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Presentations—Using Visual Media

Presentations that include a visual component are far more memorable than ones that are merely spoken. Here are some ways to give impact to your visual material:

  1. When using a flip chart, remember to:

    • Write main points in heavy capital letters.

    • Use broad-tipped pens in dark colours — black and dark blue are best.

    • Reserve lighter colours for highlighting, underlines, bullets, numbers, etc.

    • Avoid solvent-based markers. They can give some people headaches and tend to bleed through flip-chart paper.

    • Distinguish headings by making them larger, underlining, or using a different colour.

    • Use one page for each separate idea. If you have made up pages before the presentation, place tape "divider tabs" on the sides of the sheets so you will be able to find them easily.

    • Have small pieces of masking tape ready (keep them on the legs of the flip-chart stand) to post important sheets on the wall. This will keep key ideas in front of your audience.

    • Besides writing down key points, use the flip chart for diagrams such as plans, flowcharts, and organization charts — anything that will increase your audience's understanding.

    • Remember: a picture is worth a thousand words. Use one whenever possible.

  2. Slides and overheads use many of the same principles that flip charts do. You need to remember to:

    • Check the equipment before the presentation, especially to see if the light bulb is working. Some machines have two — check them both, and make sure you have replacement bulbs.

    • Try out the equipment beforehand so you can get used to how it operates. Different brands of projectors have different switching and focusing systems.

    • Make sure the picture is in focus, straight, and filling the screen as much as possible.

    • Clean the lens and the face plate of the overhead projector, to avoid having dirt specks on your picture. Make sure your slides and transparencies are clean as well.

    • Transparencies are easy to mix up. Number them and lay them out in order in front of you so you can see what's coming next. This will help you make bridging comments between overheads. Plain paper between the transparencies will help you see what's on them and will also protect them from scratches.

    • Keep projected written material very short and simple. Slides and transparencies should follow a 4-by-4 rule: no more than four lines each, and no more than four words per line.

    • Avoid using your finger to point out items on an overhead transparency. Any shaking from nervousness will be magnified and will distract your audience. Use a stir stick or a flat-sided pencil that won't roll off the projector.

    • If you plan to mask items and discuss them one by one, let the audience see all the information first. (This of course does not apply to answers to questions or surprise elements.)

    • Be careful not to block your audience's view. Remember the people at the sides of the room.

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