A Few Unique Visual Aid ExamplesSo you have designed a great presentation. Now you want a few visual aid examples to make your presentation more memorable or interactive. If that is the case, you have done well, Grasshopper. You have begun to look at your visuals in the correct order. As a presenter, you always want to design your presentation first. Then, design your visual aids.

Contrarily, if you are starting your presentation design here, well, you may want to organize your thoughts first. Then, come back.

In this session, I’m going to give you a few visual aid examples. The examples include those for both in-person meetings where everyone is in the same room and virtual delivery. These mediums are actually fairly different. So, if you are using the same types of visual aids for both, this session may help you connect better with your given audience.

Visual Aid Examples for In-Person Meetings and training Sessions.

Let’s start with a few visual aid examples for in-person meetings.

PowerPoint and Digital Visual Aids.

Often today, presenters think of PowerPoint as their only visual. It is still a very important part of the presentation, so I will spend more time on this medium in the next couple of weeks.

PowerPoint has been around since the 1990s. Until recently, though, the software hadn’t changed a whole lot in that 20+ years. Prior to laptop computers, presenters used to have an ancient visual medium called the “slide projector.” It was similar to an old-timey film projector. However, this version was filled with a series of tiny photographs printed on tiny clear squares called slides.

Years later, the “overhead projector” was invented. This allowed the presenter to place paper-sized transparency onto the projector to present. Now presenters could interchange photos and/or bullet-pointed text. In addition, the presenter could write on the transparency.

So when PowerPoint came around, it was a digital version of both the slide projector and overhead projector. Presenters would digitally create “slides” with bullet points and images as examples of visual aids.

All of that changed when Prezi came on the scene. For a few years, the online software Prezi began to exert itself into the visual aid market. The concept was simple. Make the visual aid… well… visual. It uses images and a Zoom function. So instead of slides and bullet points, Prezi used a canvas and images to create visuals for the presentation. Then the software Zoomed in on the image while the presenter provided the “text.”

PowerPoint finally caught on. It now has a Zoom function which is pretty cool. Below are a few examples of what this Zoom function can do.


Boards and Posters.

Examples of Posters and Boards as Visual AidsThere are other types of visual aids that you may want to include as well. They will help you stand out from the “death by PowerPoint” crowd. In the “what’s old is new again” category, I’m a big fan of posters and boards as visual aids. While a great image in a slideshow can be a good visual, once you hit the next button, it disappears. Posters and boards, on the other hand, have greater longevity.

For example, I had a client who was preparing a sales presentation. They were competing to win a contract with a school district. In the past, they had worked with hundreds of other districts. So, they decided to create hundreds of posters mounted on boards. In fact, they made one for each district that they had previously worked for. When they started the presentation, they set up all of the boards in a U-shape around the walls of the presentation area.

As each presenter spoke, he or she would pull one of the boards from the stack that corresponded to the story. Throughout the speech, they told about six success stories about these former clients. Since there were hundreds of other posters that weren’t used, the audience naturally assumed (correctly) that there were hundreds of other success stories as well. It was a fantastic way to dramatize their experience.

Samples, Models, and Demonstrations as Visual Aid Examples.

If you are presenting about a product, then a sample can be a great visual aid. Models can be a great alternative if you are explaining a concept that hasn’t yet been made. And finally, if you are explaining a service, a demonstration might be more illustrative.

  • A Sample: If you ever watch the TV show Shart Tank, you will see inventors use samples as visual aids quite often. If you are presenting something physical, then giving your audience something they can see, touch, and feel adds value.
  • A Model: Architects, marketers, and software engineers use this visual aid a lot. If you are proposing a solution and that solution is costly to produce, a model might be a good alternative. This will help the audience create a visual image of what you are suggesting without incurring a huge expense.
  • A Demonstration: As a trainer, I use this one a lot. For example, if I am teaching a class on how to design presentations, I will often demonstrate the process myself. Or, if I’m teaching how to answer hostile questions, I may have the group ask me tough questions to demonstrate.

Your Handouts Are Also a Valuable Visual Aid for Your Audience.

Sample Handout Made in CanvaOne main point about delivering presentations is that you have to limit your content to only the most important items. The more details, data, or points that you cover in a presentation the less your audience will understand. As a result, a good handout can allow you to provide additional details to your audience. Luckily, even if you are not a great writer or graphic designer, there are fantastic tools to help.

Canva is one of my favorite tools for creating images and handouts. You can import your corporate colors and logos. Then, you can skim through hundreds of design templates to make your handouts look really professional. Don’t worry about finding a design that matches your colors. You can alter the colors of even a fully-completed document in seconds.

If you like PowerPoint, you can also create some pretty nice handouts there as well. The advantage is that you can more easily match the style of your slideshow if you are using one.

The point is, though, that if you have a bunch of content and a short time to present, don’t try to cram all the data into your presentation. Go through your speech strategically and determine what is most critical for the audience. Then use a handout as a mechanism to deliver the additional content to the audience members. This way, if the listener wants to know more, then he or she has access. If they don’t, then they will like the presentation better.

For additional reading on this subject, Take a look at How to Create the Perfect Presentation Handout. This post has additional ways to organize and create great handouts.

A Good Story or Example Is Often the Best Type of Visual Aid.

Sometimes, a visual aid isn’t visual at all. It can also be auditory. Just like when I mentioned that a demonstration of a service is a “visual aid,” sometimes a vivid description works better than an actual image. For example, a good story engages a different part of the brain than a photograph. Stories can also add emotion to your presentation delivery.

The truth is that stories are very powerful visual aids. The audience has to pay attention to create the vision in their own head. Watch how Will Smith captivates the audience with this simple story and creates an emotional impact at the same time.

Often, speakers will think things like, “Well my experiences just aren’t that interesting.” Will Smith just spent two minutes telling us how he built a brick wall. That is not a very interesting thing to talk about. However, he makes it interesting because he paints a picture for us about what he was feeling. We are experiencing the event as if we were there ourselves. You can do the same thing in your presentations.

For additional reading on this subject, Take a look at 5 Steps to Great Storytelling. This post has additional ways to creat and deliver great stories.

Visual Aid Examples for Virtual Meetings.

Your PowerPoint Slides Should Have More Images and Action than a Typical Slideshow.

People tend to have a shorter attention span on virtual meetings. Because of this, I tend to use more images and change them more frequently. This causes the audience to be engaged more.

For instance, when I am presenting in person, my slide might have three key bullet points and a single image. However, if I deliver a similar presentation through a Zoom meeting or webinar, I will likely use three images — one for each piece of text. In addition, I will often hide my bullets or text until the image appears.

Some of you may be wondering, “Why not use multiple images in the in-person meeting as well?” Well, you could do that. However, when you are in the same room with your audience, you can use your voice, gestures, and movement to keep the audience engaged. These tools are way more powerful than the visual aids, so if you are in the same room, use your gestures and voice.

No need to overdo it, by the way. The key is to add some movement every one or two minutes. If you watch a good YouTube video, the producer will use slight zooms in and out and change video angles. They do this to keep the viewer engaged.

If you are using a single webcam for your online meetings, though, you lose a lot of your tools. So adding additional images and visual aids can make up for some of this loss.

Videos or Animations without Sound Can Make Very Interactive Visual Aids.

PowerPoint and Prezi both have great animations that you can use as one of these “eye-catching” movements. So, instead of changing or adding images, you can make the images bigger as you reference them. Or, you can move them slightly or “shake” them up as you reference them. Prezi’s original “zoom” function is great for this.

However, recently, Prezi has created an entirely new platform called Prezi Video that is pretty cool. Basically, the slideshow or visuals are integrated into the speaker’s screen. So instead of sharing your screen and showing a slideshow, the visual aids appear to the side of the speaker.

In addition to Prezi, there are a number of video animation apps that either draw your images or animate them. The one that I use is Video Scribe. I use it because it was the first one that I found years ago. However, there are a number of these apps such as Doodley and Powtoon. There are a lot of these apps, though.

The way that you can use these is to add the image to your cartoon creator. Then, have the creator draw or animate the image. You can make the drawing process last as long as you want. However, five to 10 seconds usually works fine. So instead of adding a bunch of additional images, you can make the images more interesting using some of these apps.

Live Website Visits.

Don’t forget that since you are meeting online, you can always access additional information online as well. For example, when I’m meeting with a potential client, I will often answer questions for them by going https://www.fearlesspresentations.com. Instead of just quoting an expert who agrees with me, I might go to that expert’s website.

By the way, when I do this, I will have the websites open in my browser already. This way, I can just share my screen. A little trick for doing this is to click the browser tab and open it in a new window. That way, when you look at Share My Screen, that single webpage is available to share. (This makes the sharing a little cleaner and professional looking.)

Another tip here is to share videos with additional information or sometimes funny videos during session breaks. When I teach virtual or remote presentation classes, I will give the class a 10-minute break every hour or so. Sometimes, I will open up old Saturday Night Live clips that correspond to the previous or next lesson. For instance, if I am teaching about enthusiasm, I will show the old Chris Farley clip where he is pretending to be a motivational speaker.

Collaborative Shared Documents Such as Google Docs.

Spontaneity is a nice surprise in a virtual meeting. Sometimes, it is better to move away from the pre-created visual aids and use something more instant. For instance, when my team is meeting to assign instructors for upcoming sessions, we use Google Calendar. The corporate calendar is a combination of all of the instructors’ individual calendars. So, when I share my screen showing this collaborative calendar, it is unique every time.

It shows the whole group which of them are free during the time we are filling. If there are multiple instructors available, we can discuss the assignments to make the distribution more fair.

We also have reports that are created on multiple spreadsheets. As the team members insert their individual numbers, the data appears on the cumulative spreadsheet.

While this type of visual aid isn’t as fun and exciting as some of the others, it can add to collaboration very effectively.

Breakout Room Discussions Are Examples of Verbal Visual Aids.

Just as with stories and examples in the in-person meetings, discussions among the participants can replace the need for some visuals. Zoom has the ability to break the participants into breakout rooms. Participants are more likely to communicate in smaller groups. So, if you break your meeting into smaller teams and assign each new team to tackle a problem, you will get better results. Then, after a few minutes, close down the breakout rooms. Finally, have a spokesperson from each group give a summary.

This little technique fulfills the same need as I mentioned when I suggested you add more images. Instead of the entire group listening to one person for the entire meeting, they change their focus more quickly. Having multiple people present makes meetings more interactive.

If You Want More Visual Aid Examples, Let Us Know.

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