Visual aids using PowerPoint presentations
Visual aids, including PowerPoint presentations, are the most powerful way to convey information. My message is related to helping employees with robust training materials. With the slide show presentation on PowerPoint, the employees have multimedia materials they can use for learning. For example, this presentation can teach employees how to incorporate PowerPoint presentations in their work. Using PowerPoint to teach PowerPoint is an ideal training program. Audio and all employees master the material. Moreover, the employees can take home the PowerPoint slides for reinforcement. The method of using PowerPoint is itself important because all workers need to create or interact with PowerPoint presentations at some point in their career.
However, not all PowerPoint presentations are equal. Some make their audiences fall asleep, while others convey information in ways that are both entertaining and informative. The intended audience for the presentation is management. With this target audience in mind, I will need to create an impressive presentation for the “wow” factor management expects. I can assume management already appreciates the value of PowerPoint but perhaps does not realize that the presentation software is being underutilized in the organization. I want to show senior management that PowerPoint offers a set of tools that can increase productivity. Because management is on a tight time schedule, I need to ensure that the presentation is brief and to the point. Information needs to be pithy. Using simple visual aids will help me to engage the audience and create positive connections.
Typography is one of the most fundamental of all visual components. Ryan (2012) describes typography as “the clothes words wear,” (p. 53). As the clothing, typography is not the content itself but can say a lot about the content just as a person’s clothing says a lot about the individual. The style of the typeface conveys the mood of the presentation, whether it is serious or lighthearted. Typeface choices can also correspond with the content directly. For example, an Ariel typeface evokes old typewriters, and is appropriate for a presentation on how to use presentations for journalistic or literary purposes. Alternatively, a science fiction font is appropriate when discussing the anniversary of the Dr. Who television show.
However, typography is about more than just the style of the “clothing” of the words. Typography is related to font size and its placement on the screen. For example, the font can also indicate where the viewer can place the eye on the screen. The size of the typeface can also indicate the categorization of material, or separate one idea from another (Ryan, 2012). Larger fonts will indicate big categories or overarching ideas. Smaller fonts are the subcategories, which are expanded on verbally by the speaker. In this case, I intend to follow the basic rules of presentation and typeface design: keeping it simple. Some fonts might seem attractive or unique, but they are not easily readable by the audience.
During a presentation, the audience members need to recognize words and phrases at a quick glance. For this reason, a simple and is critical. As Ryan (2012) points out, it is also important to be consistent with the use of the typeface style in the presentation. Too many fonts creates a cluttered look. Consistency is good because it keeps the audience focused. A tight and neat presentation is more impressive than a messy and cluttered one. It may be alright to use fancy fonts and typefaces as branding elements such as a running header or footer. However, the bulk of the presentation should be in a standard font. It is also critical to rely on traditional or dark colors against light backgrounds. Playing too much with unique color combinations makes a presentation look like a preschooler designed it. A management audience needs a starker, more professional appearance.
Beyond the words, a presentation must contain other visual material to capture the audience’s eye and attention. Some viewers will want to look at pictorial examples, symbols, or icons to better understand the material. For this reason, nearly every slide will contain some type of picture. Including screenshots of PowerPoint presentations is one way to embed images on the screen. Photographs of students or employees learning how to use PowerPoint is another possible image to include in the presentation. Furthermore, animated gifs can be judiciously used to add some movement to the screen without actually needing to embed a video. The choice of whether to include a video in the presentation depends on the content of the presentation, the content of the video, and the time needed to deliver the presentation. In this case, I will not use a video but will offer the opportunity for the audience members to watch a video on their free time by providing a hyperlink to one on YouTube.
Background colors convey the tone of the presentation, as do other abstract visual elements like lines and shapes. Borders and other design elements can turn a lackluster presentation into an impressive one. Microsoft (2013), the creator of PowerPoint, provides a helpful color wheel on their website. This color wheel helps the designer choose complementary colors that are easy on the eye and attractive for all the members of the audience.
Slide composition is based on the Assertion-Evidence principle, described as a “concise, complete sentence headline (no longer than 2 lines) that states the main assertion of the slide (i.e. what you want the audience to know as a result of the slide) and the body of the slide consists of visual evidence for that assertion,” (“Effective Presentations in Engineering and Science,” n.d.). Such visual evidence is not limited to images or animations. In fact, charts and graphs might be more appropriate for the managerial audience that this PowerPoint was designed for, which is why I used numerical and quantifiable data displayed in tables and charts. Management is used to viewing financial presentations, and respond well to seeing how their business may become more productive and profitable via the effective use of PowerPoint. Training employees in using PowerPoint is critical for the overall success of the company, which is the bottom line of my message.
This presentation was intended to help management think “outside the box, and onto the screen” of the PowerPoint presentation. It was a presentation with a purpose. Rather than using another presentation material, I selected PowerPoint precisely because this is the tool I am trying to teach. At my previous position, I learned the power of PowerPoint as a communication medium. PowerPoint has a universal appeal. It can be used in diverse working environments, as material can be presented in different languages and styles that appeal to people from different cultural backgrounds. It is important to choose colors, typefaces, and images with the audience in mind. Instead of lecturing dryly, the presentation permits the speaker to deliver an entertaining message. Many speakers also feel more comfortable when they have the visual component of the material on their side, because the viewers are looking more at the slides than at the speaker. This takes pressure off the speaker, but also allows the speaker to connect with the audience in a meaningful way.
Andrew, J. (n.d.). The importance of font in a presentation. Small Business Chronicle. Retrieved online: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-font-presentation-73096.html
“Effective Presentations in Engineering and Science,” (n.d.). PennState. Retrieved online: http://www.engr.psu..html
Microsoft (2013). Choose the right colors for your PowerPoint presentation. Retrieved online: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us.aspx
Ryan, W. (2012). Visual Literacy, Learning to See. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
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