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Ron Sathoff's Speaker Tips
Take Control of Your Visual Aids

By: Ron Sathoff

Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley's  He provides copy-writing, marketing, Internet promotion, and help for business speakers. Reach him at or 801-328-9006.

When I was teaching public speaking, I always told my students that they had to be careful because visual aids tended to be "mischievous."

By this, I meant that visual aids have a tendency to go wrong exactly at the worst time. If you aren't extremely careful, they will detract from your presentation, rather than enhance it.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't use visual aids. It just means that you should be careful when using them. Make sure that you know what might happen, and do everything you can to avoid problems.

For instance, I can't count the number of times students or clients have tried to use a VCR, only to find out that the machine didn't work, or that the tape was cued to the wrong place. Believe me, the worst time to find this out is when you are giving the speech.

In a case like this, you should always try to test out equipment before you give the presentation. As you test the equipment, make sure that the audience can see and hear the visual aid. Most importantly, become familiar with how to use the equipment. The last thing you want to do is hit "record" when you mean to hit "play"!

This same principle holds true for all visual aids, whether they are audio clips, computer presentations, or even posterboards with graphs written on them. Always try to test the visual aid in the actual setting, and try to imagine the potential problems that could occur.

As a last piece of advice, always have a "contingency plan" ready in case your visual aids fail you. It might not happen, but if it does, at least you will be prepared for it!

© Copyright 2001, Ron Sathoff

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