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


Nothing adds to your professionalism more than handling visuals well. This means you should practice with them, so that you're comfortable using them. Let's consider which visuals make the best impression

Real things beat everything else. A 30-second demonstration, several cans of food supplements, a vegetarian pizza, a set of golf clubsódepending on your topic, of courseówill create enthusiasm in the crowd. If you are representing a company or a department in that company, wearing indigenous work garb characterizes ideas well. Other possibilities: models of real things and pictures of real things using videotapes, photos, display boards, overhead transparencies, and so on.






Could be slower ____ Could be faster ____ Good rate ____


Needs smoothing; choppy phrasing ____ Phrasing OK; work on variety ____




Too soft ____ Too loud ____ Volume fine ____


Same volume throughout ____ Good variety ____




Level could be lower ____ Level could be higher ____ Level OK ____


Repetitive pitch pattern ____ Good variety ____




Harsh sound ____ Timid sound ____ Tone OK ____


Flat sound ____ Rich, resonant sound ____




Emphasize consonants more ____ Good, distinct words ____


Word endings omitted ____ Clear word delivery ____


Lips hardly moved ____ Good lip movement ____



Overheads are used extensively in many areas. Here are some tips for using them more professionally.

  1. Use 18 point fonts (sans serif) at minimum on overheads. Use no more than 5-6 lines of print per overhead. Don't go berserk with graphics.

  2. Either have an overhead on or turn the projector off. No white screens while you're standing off to the side talking and no white screens between transparencies. Put something on!

  3. Leave overheads on long enough for the audience to read them. Don't use a transparency if you don't have time to talk about it.

  4. Lay a pen or pencil on the overhead plate as a pointer for a discussion item. DON'T USE YOUR FINGERS. Use a red light pointer only if you can hold it very steady, which most folks can't. Don't beat the projection screen to pieces either with a pointer or your hands.

  5. Take time to check the visual fit of your overheads before you start talking. Make sure each is level for the reader and that the light from the projector is square with and on the screen.

  6. Put information on the top third of the transparency. Push the images to the top of the screen as you talk. Use a sheet of paper to cover future discussion items and reveal the image as you talk about it.

  7. Practice with your overheads at least five times before you present. Time yourself; videotape yourself, if possible. Plan segments you can leave out if time is short. Many people spend far too much time on the first few points and have to rush through the last point, which usually is the most important part of the presentation.

  8. If you have lots of information the audience needs to have, make handouts for them, and create overheads with ONLY key words and concepts. DO NOT make an overhead of an agenda that you hand out. DO NOT make overheads of single, typewritten sheets of information. People can't read these and then they start to get irritated!

  9. To create good overheads, look at the content of your talk, decide what the main ideas are, and make overheads from your analysis. Use pictures, cartoons, photos; leave a word picture of your talk. People will forget 75 percent of what you say within 24 hours, UNLESS you show them a picture and repeat what you want them to remember. Then they're six times more likely to remember what you said.

  10. Talk your talk. Don't read it or recite it. Don't read overhead content word for word to the audience. (They, too, can read.) Don't turn your back to the audience in order to read material on the screen. Look at your info on the projection plate itself; maintain eye contact.

If you're using overheads, it looks polished to create an opening transparency you can leave on while you're setting up for the talk. To determine whether a visual of any sort is large enough for folks in the back to see, put it on the floor and stand up; if you can read it from there, it's OK. If you have several transparencies you intend to use, decide where you'll draw and discard. Put them on the left of the projector and discard on the right or whatever. Don't use audience time to file your overheads into a three-ring notebook. The audience gets more caught up in your filing than your topic. Leave the room lights on as much as possible when using visuals.


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