Most presentations will require some form of visuals to explain or highlight key points that you are making. These could be PowerPoint slides, flip charts or OHP slides. Visual aids can help clarify abstract points, and help your audience remember the content of your presentation. However, they should enhance your presentation and not be a substitute for it. Indeed, with the need to rely on technology to deliver a presentation with visuals, you should be familiar with that technology. Most importantly be prepared to deliver the presentation without visuals, since technology does have the habit of breaking down at crucial times.
Avoid lengthy paragraphs and a good rule is only put the amount of text that you could fit on a T-shirt! Think more in terms of catchy phrases, rather than full sentences. With graphs and charts, if the audience cannot understand within a few seconds of viewing, then your diagrams are too complex.
You will also need some appropriate language to introduce and comment on visuals. These should introduce the visual and point out the most significant points.
Here are some appropriate phrases for introducing visuals:-
Have a look at the chart/graph…….
Let’s look at the following chart/graph
As you can see from the chart……..
The chart/graph you see here illustrates………..
Let’s take a look at ….
The key areas of a visual can be highlighted with the following:-
I’d like to draw your attention to…………
I’d like to point out……………..
If you look more closely at……………..
The figures show that………………..
In business presentations, the visuals will often refer to trends and changes. These may refer to upward movement (increase), downward movement (decrease), an end to movement or no change. For example:-
- Sales have continued to boom in the last quarter. (increase)
- There was a slump in the price in the last few months. (decrease)
- There was a leveling off in the turnover of staff. (change stops)
- The figures remained constant for all of 2005. (no change)
As well as the direction of change, you are likely to wish to comment on the degree of change. There are a wide range of adjectives and adverbs that you can use for this. For large changes, you can use the following:-
There has been a substantial/spectacular/enormous increase/decrease in……….
The price increased/decreased dramatically/considerably.
For smaller changes the following adjectives and adverb are useful:-
There was a slight/moderate increase/decrease in…………..
The price increased/decreased marginally.
In the end though, the most important visual is yourself. You need to consider how and where you are standing. You should avoid swaying from side to side (surprisingly easy to do when you are nervous), turning your back to the audience and don’t pace backwards and forwards. You should stand with your feet a shoulder length apart and face the audience directly with your feet pointing slightly outwards.
You also need to think about the use of hand gestures. Essentially, you should use your hands as you would naturally in a conversation. If you are animated normally, then use your hands. If you are more reticent, then minimal hand gestures are fine.
Finally, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse once more before you present in front of an audience.