Visual Aids and Delivery

Visual aids play an important role in conveying supporting material to your audience. They also tie to delivery, since using visual aids during a speech usually requires some physical movements. It is important not to let your use of visual aids detract from your credibility. I’ve seen many good speeches derailed by posters that fall over, videos with no sound, and uncooperative PowerPoint presentations.

The following tips can help you ensure that your visual aids enhance, rather than detract, from your message and credibility:

  1. Only have your visual aid displayed when it is relevant to what you are saying: insert black slides in PowerPoint, hide a model or object in a box, flip a poster board around, and so on.
  2. Make sure to practice with your visual aids so there aren’t any surprises on speech day.
  3. Don’t read from your visual aids. Put key information from your PowerPoint or Prezi on your speaking outline and only briefly glance at the screen to make sure you are on the right slide. You can also write information on the back of a poster or picture that you’re going to display so you can reference it while holding the visual aid up, since it’s difficult to hold a poster or picture and note cards at the same time.
  4. Triple check your technology to make sure it’s working: electricity, Internet connection, wireless clicker, sound, and so on.
  5. Proofread all your visual aids to find spelling/grammar errors and typos.
  6. Bring all the materials you may need to make your visual aid work: tape/tacks for posters and pictures, computer cables/adaptors, and so on. Don’t assume these materials will be provided.
  7. Have a backup plan in case your visual aid doesn’t work properly.


  • Facial expressions help communicate emotions and enthusiasm while speaking. Make sure that facial expressions are consistent with the content being presented. Record yourself practicing your speech in order to evaluate your use of facial expressions.
  • Eye contact helps establish credibility and keep your audience’s attention while you’re speaking.
  • Posture should be comfortable and appropriate for the speaking occasion.
  • Emphatic and descriptive gestures enhance the verbal content of our speech. Gestures should appear spontaneous but be purposeful.
  • Movements from the waist down should be purposefully used to emphasize a point or as a transition during a speech.
  • Audience members will make assumptions about your competence and credibility based on dress and personal appearance. Make sure your outer presentation of self is appropriate for the occasion and for the impression you are trying to project.
  • Visual aids can add to your speech but can also interfere with your delivery and negatively affect your credibility if not used effectively.


  1. Identify three goals related to delivery that you would like to accomplish in this course. What strategies/tips can you use to help achieve these goals?
  2. What nonverbal adaptors have you noticed that others use while speaking? Are you aware of any nonverbal adaptors that you have used? If so, what are they?
  3. Getting integrated: Identify some steps that speakers can take to ensure that their dress and physical appearance enhance their credibility. How might expectations for dress and physical appearance vary from context to context (academic, professional, personal, and civic)?

results matching ""

    No results matching ""