When you communicate verbally, you communicate in one of the most direct ways you can to get your idea across to an audience. Yet, you can enhance what you say and how you say it by showing what you say. Letting people see your message adds another dimension to your communication. Visualizing your message may be the deciding factor that clarifies your idea and convinces your audience to act on or support it.

This is where visual aids help seal the deal.

Visual aids support your message in a way that enhances your spoken words. Visual aids help your audience establish a connection between what you say and what the idea looks like – on paper, projected on a screen, in a video, using a model mock-up, or whichever medium best supports your message.

Here are some guidelines to follow to create and use visual aids to reinforce your idea presentation.

• Create a consistent look. Make a visual template. Incorporate logos and colors, arrange information in similar locations, and use the same backgrounds on each visual. By establishing a uniform look throughout, you can ensure that your visuals are focusing only on the most important aspect: your idea. Use this approach when creating handouts, digital format presentations, and even in follow-up materials that you plan to send to participants after the meeting.

• Gauge text size, darkness, and thickness by how well your visuals can be seen from the farthest points of the room. Include side views as well as rear view. By performing this “visibility check” ahead of time, you can save your audience from confusion or frustration at not seeing the visual aids clearly. If you’re considering a PowerPoint presentation or anything digital that will be displayed from the front of the room, plan for extra time before the meeting to set up the projection area. Prepping ahead of time helps you ensure that the entire audience can grasp your message regardless of their position in your dedicated meeting space.

• In visual presentations, limit colors to four: black, blue, red and green. If you use too many colors, you dilute the positioning and value of your intended message. Not to mention it won’t look as professional. Be sure to use the four colors in this way:

o Black – primary color for text and graphic outlines.
o Blue – secondary color for text and graphics.
o Red – bullets and highlighting.
o Green – highlighting.

• Toys, models, and samples are also visual aids. For variety, use these tools in your presentation, but be sure to use them appropriately and sparingly. If your idea can be developed into a prototype that the audience can see and/or touch, then it will offer even greater visualization for the information being presented. Even if you can’t get a physical object, consider the power that a drawing or animation can provide. These are excellent tools for demonstrating physical relationships of parts, how something works, or clarifying a complex concept.

• Have a “Plan Oops!” As convenient as technology has become in the way of presenting information, there are still times when it fails us. If (or when) that happens to you, you’ll want to have your visuals in an alternative format like a paper printout. Just one printout—in color—is all you need to have with you. And put your visual files on a portable storage medium (CD, DVD, thumb drive, or smartphone). If something goes wrong with the primary technology, your “Plan Oops!” can be copied, printed, or uploaded and distributed to your audience.

Beware of using visual aids just because the medium is the hottest thing out there, the visuals look pretty, or cost a lot of money. Visual aids must support, rather than overwhelm or distract, your message. You may only get one chance to share your idea with the right audience. Consider enhancing your message and the experience you want to deliver by integrating visual aids into your presentation.

Author's Bio: 

Sylvia Henderson is Chief Everything Officer (CEO) of Springboard Training—your springboard to personal and professional development. She is an author, workshop facilitator, speaker, and business woman. She provides people, tools and resources that focus on professionalism and work ethics (employability skills) and leadership...helping people & organizations show they are as great as they say they are.