I still remember my 10th grade history teacher, because he was an expert at using tangible objects to elaborate on each lesson. To this day, if a concept I learned about in his class comes up in a discussion, the object he showed pops into my mind immediately. Connecting concepts with tangible, memorable objects helps our brains retain the association for longer periods than merely discussing the concept alone. However, in our highly digital culture, the use of a physical visual aids seems to be a lost art. Instead, we settle for the convenience of digital visuals to relay our point and engage the visual mind. But studies show that visual aids not only increase retention, they also increase learning longevity.

While most of this data was gathered within the context of an educational environment, we believe it translates well into the presentation space. Step back into the analog world, and leverage visual aids using these 3 proven strategies.

Keep it simple.
The last thing you want to do is create a complicated visual aid that will clutter your presentation and end up hindering your overall message. By keeping your visual aids simple, it allows you to complement your presentation and leverage the power of the visual aid.

Rule of thumb: The visual aid must be able to be explained in 2 minutes or less. Any longer than that and your audience will begin to disengage and lose the connection.

Make it obvious.
When working in the analog world, it is important for your visual aid to connect easily to your content. Use your visual aid to bring your subject matter to life. If the connection between your visual and your content is too difficult to make, you risk trading information retention for general confusion.

Rule of thumb: Your visual should contain an obvious connection to your content. For example, if you are discussing the effect of self-segregation, you could use a wall to make the problem a physical reality for your audience.

Practice with the visual.
I’ll never forget standing in front of hundreds of people and attempting to crush a soda can using only steam. I tried once and failed. I tried again and failed again. I was forced to abandon the entire visual which was not only embarrassing, but it left my audience disengaged and uninterested. If only I had practiced beforehand rather than trusting my instructions to be infallible! Had I practiced, I would have discovered that the trick didn’t work and had the opportunity to come up with a better way to display the same concept. When stepping into the analog world, practice is vital. Unlike in the digital space, there are a lot more variables that come into play, so use your practice time as an opportunity to account and prepare for those visuals.

Rule of thumb: Practice a visual aid twice before ever attempting it on stage. This ensures that the first try was not a fluke, and you are prepared for the success or potential pitfalls of the visual. Giving it a few attempts also provides you with a better estimate of timing and pacing.

Spice up your next presentation by stepping out of the digital world and back into the analog space to give your audience a tangible object to remember. If you can execute these three strategies, we can assure you that your audience will remember what you said and what you showed for years after your presentation.

Interested in learning more about how to deliver a killer presentation? Check out the Presentation Mentor online class today.

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