10 Presentation Aids To Enhance Your Presentation
You’re putting together a presentation and you’ve considered using presentation aids but don’t know where to begin?
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran presenter or new to the industry and looking on how to become a better presenter, we’ve got you covered with tips and tricks and everything you need to know about presentation aids.
We’ve put together this comprehensive list of 10 presentation aids you should incorporate in your next presentation, seminar, public speaking event or any other audience engagement to ensure your key messages are retained and you remain at the forefront of people’s minds.
Whether it’s visual aids, creative design or new ideas you wouldn’t necessarily think of to use in your line of work, we’ve broken down the bias to help give you a fresh mind on some presentation aids you should use.
What Are Presentation Aids?
A presentation aid is a complementary tool you can and should use in order to have your presentation stand out and enhance it.
They are sensory aids to help elevate your speech, performance or powerpoint presentation.
Where words fail, presentation aids come in to support.
A presentation aid can be used alone or in combination with other presentation aids. More often than not, it is encouraged to combine a couple of presentation aids to target the different senses – hearing, vision, smell, & taste.
The more senses you target, the more likely your presentation will be remembered.
For example, audio and video clips might be sprinkled throughout your presentation slide deck. Although these are all different presentation aids, using them in a combined way will enhance the overall presentation and increase audience engagement.
Presentation aids work because they tap into the presentation psychology; the underpinning of our minds and how we perceive and remember great presentations. Whether someone is an auditory or visual learner, using additional presentation aids that target these senses will help take your presentation from average to phenomenal.
Why Do Presenters Use Presentation Aids?
Every presenter has their reasoning for selecting the presentation aids they use.
With the advancement of technology, presenters have been using more and more visual aids in their presentations in order to enhance the overall audience experience and create a great visual presentation.
Whether your presentation is in-person or instead a virtual presentation, the objective is always the same. Get your key messaging across with minimal miscommunication. Getting your key message across to your audience members can be done with the help of effective presentation aids.
Both informal and formal presentations incorporate some degree of presentation aids.
Presentation aids provide many benefits to a presenter. A presenter may use a combination of both visual aids and auditory aids to increase audience engagement and to help deliver their message.
Let’s break it down as to why a presenter would use visual aids and why a presenter would use auditory aids.
At a high level, it first depends on the audience. You should always begin crafting your presentation by understanding who your audience is and what you want them to take away from your presentation. This will help define the aids you select.
If your audience has a shorter attention span such as young adults or children, consider using more visual aids like videos or imagery. You may do this by adding videos into your PowerPoint presentation or adding images.
Perhaps you want your audience to remember things or act on something after the presentation has already concluded. A brochure or presentation handout might be a great aid to use as it leaves a physical, tangible item with the audience.
Trying to get funding or convert audience members into sales? A demonstration or live performance of the product can help people envision themselves using the product.
Presentation aids are used to help deliver your message and influence people. Understand your audience and the message you want them to take away and you’re halfway done deciding which complementary presentation tool you should use.
10 Types Of Presentation Aids
Before we begin going through the list of presentation aids you should use, we want to first preface with a word of caution.
Don’t overdo it.
As tempting as it may be to incorporate all 10 presentation types of presentation aids into your allotted time, don’t. You may be doing yourself a disservice.
Too many presentation aids may begin to distract your audience rather than support your messaging.
If you give your audience a handout, have them glance at an image with some written text all on one slide all the while you’re speaking over everything, there is too much going on. Your audience won’t know where to place their attention.
Also, some presentation aids don’t work in the environment in which the presentation is being held.
For example, if your presentation is virtual with absolutely no in-person audience members, a demonstration or live performance might not make practical sense.
Use these tools sparingly.
With that being said, let’s dive into the top 10 types of presentation aids we believe you should incorporate into your next presentation based on presentation feedback we’ve received over the years as presentation designers.
1 – PowerPoint Slides, Google Slides & Prezi Slides
One of the very first presentation aids we’ve all been taught to use and have more than likely used at least once in a school or work environment is a presentation slide deck.
Almost all presentations nowadays have a slide deck accompanying the presentation since it has been engrained in our minds as an essential for every presentation.
Slide decks are great because they’re often easily customizable and there are plenty of well designed templates you can find online.
Slide decks such as PowerPoint Slides, Google Slides and Prezi Slides also allow a presenter to incorporate additional presentation aids such as videos, images or graphs seamlessly. Rather than having to jump back and forth between tabs, monitors or computers, a presentation slide deck consolidates all the information into one place.
When presenting to a large audience, a slide deck also allows audience members who are seated at the back of the venue to still take away the key points you’re trying to highlight. When highlighting key points, they will often be mentioned in the slide deck which is often displayed using a large projector and screen or video monitor.
Lastly, a presentation slide deck is a great tool to use as a reference.
The key details should be illustrated in the slide deck. Once the presentation is over, the slide deck can be a stand alone takeaway the audience or client can reference at a later date once the presentation has long past.
2 – Visual Aids, Audio And Video Clips
At a minimum, you should have at least one of the following presentation aids – imagery, audio or video.
Imagery can be more than just a photo. Imagery encompasses your slide deck, the color theory you use such as brand colors, how you embellish quotes and more.
For example, rather than sticking a text block on your slide deck with a quote, try enhancing the quote with the some visual appeal. You may consider adding a photo of the person who said the quote, stylizing the font with script writing so it seems more humanized and lastly using colors to highlight key words you want to bring to the audience’s attention.
Audio is another great tool to use, especially if you plan on incorporating motion graphics in your presentation. It also adds a layer of depth.
Since the audience will likely be hearing you speak for a majority of the presentation, having a pre-recorded narration over motion graphics will help create a “unique moment” in your presentation – almost like a bookmark. This will help your audience segment your presentation and retain information better.
Finally, videos have continued to grow in popularity as it is a combination of both visual aids and auditory aids.
Your video can be a live action video with real actors or it can be a stop motion animation. Whatever video style you decide, a video clip will help get your message across and enhance audience memory.
By combining all three aids, you’re targeting a combination of both visual and auditory senses. This combination will help your presentation stick out as human learning occurs visually and through auditory.
3 – Sizzle Reels
Although similar to videos, sizzle reels add a bit of flair traditional videos often lack.
Sentiment wise, videos can be positive, neutral or even negative while a sizzle reel’s sentiment is usually always positive.
Sizzle reels are very promotional in the sense that they are created with an intended purpose to have the audience act or feel in a certain way.
Unlike a video which may be used to support an argument or provide raw, unfiltered visual dialogue, a sizzle reel is typically created with a specific purpose for persuasion or selling.
Oftentimes, a sizzle reel is used to demonstrate or highlight a specific idea, product or sample of work usually presented with positive connotation. The presenter is trying to get the audience to be on the same page as them.
Like a video, a sizzle reel can be live action or animated – it is the intention of the video which makes it a sizzle reel or not.
4 – Motion Graphics
Keep your audience’s eyes stimulated by incorporating motion graphics into your presentation.
Motion graphics use the illusion of motion or rotation to make something which is typically stationary to appear as though it’s moving.
Motion graphics are great when they are used effectively. Too much motion graphics or improperly used motion graphics takes away your presentation’s credibility as it may begin to appear too animated and comical.
Depending on your presentation niche, motion graphics can really help enhance your presentation.
If your presentation primarily deals with lots of text, consider using motion graphics to help liven things up.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Well, why not just use video?”. To that we say video isn’t for every industry. Although video may seem like the best option, it can often hurt your presentation more than it benefits it.
Consider a historical speech, one with a powerful message. Would you rather just watch a video of the person speaking, or perhaps a carefully curated kinetic typography motion graphic?
In this instance, although a video is still acceptable, you would be better off with motion graphics.
Motion graphics aren’t to be confused with animation. The difference between motion graphics and animation is motion graphics convert a typically stationary object into a moving one. Motion graphics don’t follow a typical storytelling narrative.
Animation on the other hand takes the audience on an emotional journey through storytelling which is an additional presentation aid we will discuss.
5 – 3D Modeling & Animation
If motion graphics aren’t enough, try using 3D Modeling and animation to bring your ideas to life and help tell a story!
3D Modeling and animation help bring hard to conceptualize ideas into a more tangible reality.
For example, if you’re presenting a prototype of a car, home or the latest piece of tech, spending money into developing a fully functional or full-scale product may not be feasible – especially if you’re merely pitching the idea to get funding in the first place.
3D modeling allows your audience to see how the product will look and perform if it were real.
Animation helps connect your messaging to your audience through the art of storytelling. Animation allows you to tell stories far beyond the scope of what is in our reality and can really help emphasize your brand’s essence.
For example, Red Bull did a great job with their advertising using the art of animation. Red Bull’s slogan of “Red Bull gives you wings” is personified through animation as their animated characters are given wings after drinking their product. They’re also put in high-intensity situations. Although often comical, animation helped bring the brand essence to life.
This could still be done with live-action actors and CGI, but the cost is far more than animation.
Animation is a cost-effective storytelling tool to bring even the most extremes of situations into a digestible reality.
6 – Maps
Our world has shifted to become a global village.
It is almost impossible to go about your day without hearing a piece of international news.
Whether it’s news, politics, culture or business, we are connected to different nations around the world. As you progress in your life, you’ll soon encounter yourself presenting to people around the world whether virtually or in-person.
If you are presenting to people around the world whether it be for politics, culture or business, adding a map is another great presentation aid to help visualize the interconnectedness between each other.
A map can be used to highlight geographical hotspots, geographical trends and more.
Here are some examples we’ve put together of when you would use a map.
Planning to expand your business? Why not include a map pinpointing all your existing locations relative to your new expansion.
Planning to show how diseases spread throughout the world and relative hotspots of infections? Consider adding a map with varying degrees of color to highlight infection densities.
Maps don’t need to be international either depicting every country – they can be used for small businesses showcasing a localized region.
Lastly, maps help put things into perspective. Tying back to presentation psychology, people are more likely to express emotions or feel connected to something the closer they are to it, physically. By using a map, you can put your message into perspective for your audience.
7 – Infographic Charts & Graphs
Rather than simply putting a few numbers up on a slide deck and calling it a day, try inputting these numbers in a chart or graph.
You have to consider your audience and not everyone learns or absorbs information by simply reading. They need to visualize comparisons and differences. Charts and graphs are one great way to do this.
Let’s take a look at the example above. It could’ve been easy enough to show there was a 280% increase in energy saving, but we were missing a big chunk of the story which was expenses were declining. You also don’t see the scale of energy savings relative to expenses with just words.
Instead, opting to put numbers into a visual format, the audience members can easily understand the advantages and compare it to the change over time.
Remember – try and avoid very complex graphs. When you start to input complex graphs into a presentation, you’ll begin to lose the audience as they will be too busy focusing on understanding the graph.
If possible, leave the audience with resources they can look back to after the presentation such as a brochure or handout where they can take as much time as they need to digest more robust graphs.
8 – Infographic Diagrams
Unlike charts and graphs which primarily focus on data and numbers, a diagram focuses on the appearance, structure, flow or workings of something.
A diagram is a great presentation aid to use as it helps break complex ideas into step-by-step sections the audience can follow along with.
Not only does it provide clear steps, but it can help speak to key points of a product or timeline.
For example, this diagram goes over the structure of an EV charger.
Rather than just showing an image of the charger with bullet points off to the side, a diagram provides clear connection lines from the point being made and where it’s located on the final product.
Diagrams also help illustrate flow. Whether it be the customer journey, your product development or your company’s growth, diagrams are great ways to show consistent progression in a logical, step-by-step pattern.
9 – Brochures & Presentation Handouts
One way to really connect with your audience and almost guarantee they’ll leave the presentation remembering something is with a brochure or handout.
A brochure or handout is a physical printout which could be a combination of images, written text and diagrams.
Oftentimes, brochures and handouts are used to elaborate on information already being presented but in further detail. Depending on the scope of your presentation, you may want to opt to have a brochure or presentation handout.
If the nature of your presentation requires thorough research, data and insight such as business or healthcare, a handout can allow your audience to review the information at their own pace at a later time.
A brochure or handout also allows audience members to jot down information.
This is important if you’re trying to encourage audience participation.
By enabling the audience to jot down their own notes and have time near the end of your presentation for them to collaborate and speak to points throughout your presentation, you’ll be engaging in a discourse with your audience.
10 – Demonstration or Live Performance
The last presentation aid we recommend is also one of the hardest to pull off – a demonstration or live performance.
A demonstration or live performance is when you’re presenting the truth and validity of something. For example, you might do a demonstration of how your product performs. Or, instead of playing music, you could have a live performance.
One of the most well-known presenters to do demonstrations or live performances is Steve Jobs. At the unveiling of any new Apple product, Steve Jobs was there on stage with the product in-hand ready to demonstrate its state of the art capabilities.
Demonstration or live performances are one of the best presentation aids to use as they often go hand in hand with public relations. Whether the performance goes well or bad, you can almost be sure there will be press coverage of it afterwards.
A great example of a demonstration which went south was Tesla’s Cybertruck and their armored windows. What was supposed to be strong, armored glass came to a shattering end when a Tesla employee threw a steel ball at not just one window, but both the front and rear window leaving both of them shattered. The hope was for the steel ball to ricochet off the window to demonstrate their durability, but instead they failed.
Although this might seem like a failure, the coverage it got after the presentation was a complete publicity success.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Using Presentation Aids
As with everything in life, there are always two sides of the coin – positives and negatives.
The same goes for using presentation aids.
Rather than experimenting yourself and learning the hard way of advantages and disadvantages, we’ve put together this short yet informative section to help guide your decision making.
Presentation aids are great complementary tools you should use in every presentation. They allow you to connect with audience members in new and unique ways.
One of the advantages of using presentation aids is to appeal to different audiences.
Everyone has a different attention span. Everyone also learns and absorbs information differently. By disseminating your key message using new and unique methods, you’re able to appeal to a larger audience.
Secondly, presentation aids allow the lifespan of your presentation to be extended.
Imagine your presentation was only you speaking. The moment you’re done talking, the presentation is over and it begins to fade from people’s memory. With the help of presentation aids, you avoid this outcome and extend how long your presentation is remembered for.
For example, if you used a slide deck to accompany your presentation, the slide deck can be made available to audience members after the presentation to reference.
Lastly, presentation aids help reduce the attention that’s put on you and allow you to take breaks while presenting.
If you’re a beginner, it can be intimidating to be the center of attention. With the added use of presentation aids, you can break up your presentation to allow the aids to do the work. If you have a video, once you begin to play it, the audience’s attention will be redirected to the video. This will allow you time to pause, recollect your thoughts, take a drink of water if needed and continue on with the presentation afterwards.
Presentation aids are not the miracle solution.
If you don’t have a solid foundation on which your presentation is built upon, it doesn’t matter how many or which presentation aids you decide to use. You need to ensure your presentation is properly structured from the beginning.
Presenters can also get carried away with using too many presentation aids.
When you don’t take the time to reflect on the presentation aids you are using and just begin spitballing every presentation aid into your presentation just because you know of these tools, doesn’t mean you should. They begin to become a distraction and takeaway from the messaging you’re trying to get across.
Conclusion – Should You Use Presentation Aids?
The short and sweet answer is yes. You should absolutely use presentation aids.
Unless your plan is to only be a storyteller letting the audience create an image in their mind, then you should consider using at least one of the presentation aid types mentioned above.
Not only will presentation aids help your audience learn and retain the information better, it may actually help you!
Presentation aids require you to contribute more work to the final product. It requires you to carefully think of the story you’re trying to convey to your audience and which best method to do so. By taking this extra bit of time to sit down and reflect on your presentation and actually produce well-crafted aids, you’ll be setting yourself up as a thought-leader on the topic.