Information for Speakers


The speaker is more important than the visuals or multimedia, which only support the presentation. The speaker must dominate the show. This can be difficult when the visual aids screen is bigger, brighter, and more eye catching than the speaker. However, it is your obligation to your audience to give a presentation that can stand on its own, without any visual aids (especially for those who can't see them or if you are unexpectedly left in a situation where you can't use them).

Nevertheless... visual aids can be a useful tool for a successful presentation.

This document provides some information about presentation issues, including stress, presentation techniques, and a Guide to Presentation of Visual Aids.

The author would like to give attibution to the following, which provided much of the information for this document:


The stress felt by the speaker can increase due to technology problems. Going into hyper-stress (excessive) can be avoided by carefully rehearsing the presentation in the location. But remaining in hypo-stress (too low) is no good either: the speaker can be too relaxed or too careless and not check the environment, assuming that things will take care of themselves. This is where Murphy's Law strikes: if things can go wrong, they will!

The best remedy for stress is PREPARATION:

Presentation Techniques

Successful speakers can apply a few techniques adapted to the use of multimedia:

Keeping a high profile

Adding variety

  • Make sure to rehearse in advance to find out where you can stand, where you can move
  • Determine the limits where you should not go to avoid obscuring the screen.
  • Talk, don't read to your audience
  • Be natural, not perfect
  • Explore your territory and make sure you can occupy it to the full
  • Practice, practice, practice

Guide to Presentation of Visual Aids

Types of Visual Aids

Tips for Visual Aid Creation


overhead transparencies projected on a screen using an overhead projector




photographic reproduction of image or text, on a bound slide that projects from a carousel tray in a slide projector




projects computer monitor display onto a large screen.




photocopied outlines or other materials, handed out to audience members




I. Make them legible

  1. For slides: hold the slide up to the light at arm's length. You should be able to read everything at that distance, if you expect it to be legible at a presentation.
  2. For overheads: The minimum height of the smallest letters should be 5 mm.
  3. Use 24-point type for all letting done in ALL CAPITALS and 32-point lettering for Capitals and Lowercase.
  4. Use a "sans serif" typeface, such as Arial, Helvetica, or Universal -- do not use Times or similar font.

The example above is a sans-serif font, Helvetica. Contrast the legibility with the example below, which is Times Roman.

II. Keep them simple.

  1. Visual aids in a presentations must be twice as simple as those in a written report.
  2. Round off numbers, cutting decimal places
  3. Substitute symbols for words -- $ is better than "dollars"; % is better than "percent"
  4. Abbreviate where possible without creating confusion
  5. Delete any footnotes
  6. Omit sources; leave them for the written paper
  7. Omit lines that detract; avoid underlines, excessive gridding, unnecessary outlines, and company logos.
  8. Slides should have one-line titles
  9. Use a maximum of 6-7 lines per slide
  10. Edit long sentences to only one line
  11. Use a maximum of 6-8 words per line
    1. Use only one sublevel
    2. Boldface carries more weight
  12. Test slides for legibility and contrast
  13. Err on the side of more slides with less on each slide

III. Use color with a purpose, not as decoration

  1. No more than 4 colors per slide
  2. Use contrasting colors: light lettering on a dark background is best
  3. Avoid pastels
  4. Use colors when they really help the audience -- to emphasize a trend line, to identify a recurring theme, to symbolize the meaning of a word (e.g., red for "stop")

IV. What you say versus what's on the slide:

What you say:

Purpose of This Presentation

  1. To share with you the results of our study on highway safety performance through
    1. Reviewing performance trends of different highway classifications
    2. Giving you the analysis of the major factors contributing to this performance
  2. To outline the steps that are recommended to enhance safety on highway classes needing improved performance

What the slide shows:

Purpose of this presentation

Practice, Practice, Practice