More visual aid and PowerPoint lessons

This great information comes from Stacey Hanke, owner of 1st Impressions.  …. Thanks, Stacey, from the folks who want to speak better and connect their visual information to their audiences.  Jean

Several weeks ago I observed a presentation delivered by an individual whom I perceived as confident and credible. This perception quickly reverted backwards when he began to interact with PowerPoint and notes. As he turned to have a conversation/relationship with his slides and notes, his energy deflated, he disconnected with his listeners, his vocal projection was inaudible, and his rate of speech took off with record speed.

You’ve been there before, watching a speaker talk to their visual aids as if you weren’t there. Your mind wanders and you begin to think, “Gee, should I leave the two of them alone?” It’s what we call Visual Aid Madness. Have we forgotten who is more important, the visual aid or ourselves? Are we using the visual aid to hide from our listeners?

When used appropriately, a visual aid provides Impact, Control, and Emphasis for you, the listener, and your Message. 


Are you thinking to yourself, “I do not present. I do not use PowerPoint, nor do I have future plans for doing so.” When I speak of visual aids, I am referring too much more than PowerPoint. 

• Notes
• Computer, blackberry, etc.; when you speak to this items as a peer is communicating to you.
• A face-to-face conversation when you repeatedly look away from your listener in mid-sentence. They begin to get a complex wondering, “What are you looking at?” (I will talk about this in my next blog.)

Whether we’re using PowerPoint, flipchart, notes, marketing or sales aids, we’ve allowed these elements to become our message rather than support our message.

Have you ever considered not only are marketing aids, props, or PowerPoint visual aids; YOU’RE a visual? Your non-verbal behavior will positively or negatively impact the amount of information your listener remembers. When you lose eye contact with your listener or fidget with your paper, pen, etc. you’re creating distractions that will minimize the amount of information they’ll receive.



According to a study by the University of Minnesota, visual aids increase your chance of persuading your listener to accept your position by 43 percent. In addition, studies by Harvard and Columbia show that visuals improve retention by up to 38 percent. It’s critical your visuals don’t become a victim of a common mistake – losing sight of the message and becoming enamored with the visual. 

When we communicate, we need to remember who is more important, YOU are the visual aid. Avoid the Visual Aid Madness; talking frequently to the visual, using a visual too often as your “security blanket,” or using the visual as part of your gestures. (A pen in your hand will become a distraction, while you’re unaware you’re holding a pen.) The trick is remembering the visual supports your message and not to distract your message.

Interact, not to distract:

Whether you’re presenting, participating in a face-to-face conversation, sales call, or meeting start TODAY allowing your visual aid to support your message. (PowerPoint, marketing brochures, handouts, notes, props or flipcharts.)

• Provide an introduction prior to displaying the visual. This will engage your listener’s attention and heighten anticipation.

• Create balance between YOU and the visual. Pause immediately after displaying the visual to give yourself time to think and to give the listener time to understand the visual.

• Pause every time you refer to the visual to gather your thoughts.

• Talk to the listener, not the visual! Turn from the visual to your listener in silence, connect with their eyes and then speak.

• Disregard the visual if it no longer supports your message. For example: if you are explaining an idea while referring to a marketing piece and you have now transitioned to a new subject, place this piece off to the side. This will bring the listeners focus back to YOU.



• Only speak when you connect with a pair of eyes! The floor, ceiling, computer, or any other object you’re looking at while you’re talking will not talk back to you. Trust and credibility will be created when you connect with your listener not the visual.Subscribe to StaceyHanke Youtube – @staceyhanke

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1 Response to More visual aid and PowerPoint lessons

  1. DR vipin kumar says:

    Dear sir, I as a student of english literatutre usually feel to attract all the audience by giving effective presentation, buit there were few drawbacks that i today came to know after reading your comment on visual aids and its significances. Ok. In future i will read your suggestions and use them whereever possible. Thank you very much for you keen insight in this regard.
    Dr vipin Kumar (India)

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