A presentation is merely a variation on a speech. What differentiates the two? A presentation usually uses some other medium or component to help along the point, not only relying on oral communication.
For example, in addition to a speech, someone giving a presentation may use visual aids such as prototypes of a product, audio clips, or visual aids.
Visual aids can be an effective way of selling your point. You can tell a group 50 different ways how new and exciting a product is, but until they see it for themselves, they’re not likely to be completely swayed by your enthusiasm. For example, Ana, a video-game designer, was giving a presentation about her group’s newest game. She felt strongly that the game would be the next big thing in the gaming world. Ana gave a presentation outlining the game’s innovations in graphics, action and storyline. She explained to the marketing group how the game’s characters were so cute and cutting edge that they’d be sure to have a huge market for crossover products like cartoons, toys, and lunchboxes. Ana’s audience listened patiently to her speech. Having heard the same enthusiasm from most group leaders, the audience was skeptical. It wasn’t until Ana dimmed the lights and gave a fully functional demonstration of the game that she won over the crowd.
Visual aids can take on several forms, from the cheap and basic to the expensive and elaborate. The visual aid you choose to use will depend on your crowd, your subject matter, and your budget:
- White board or chalkboard.
Both serve the same function of allowing you to illustrate a point graphically while giving your presentation. You might use a white or chalkboard to illustrate a design concept or make lists of ideas brainstormed by your audience.
- Photocopied handouts.
A photocopied handout might contain the main points of your speech or be used to illustrate points with statistics or graphs. The advantage of a handout is that it gives your audience something to take away with them when the presentation is over. This will help your audience be able to more easily jog their memories or illustrate your point to others.
- Prototypes or product samples.
If trying to sell a new or already existing product, you might pass around a real, tangible example of that product. For example, if you make stuffed animals and have a new unicorn doll to market, you might bring samples.
- Audio and video.
A multimedia presentation might be the way to illustrate your point. Supporting material, like testimonials or examples of your concept or product in use could be highlighted using audio or video.
- Overhead projector.
Stop picturing the prehistoric overhead projector from elementary school. The latest generation of overhead projectors can do everything from printing out what you’ve written on the overhead to projecting a computer screen.
- Presentation software.
Several software packages, like Microsoft’s PowerPoint, are designed to help you give a richer, fuller presentation. Not only can you create an outline and slides to carry you throughout your presentation on an overhead screen, but you can also print out the presentations to use as handouts. In addition, you can save the presentation to disk to send to far-away audiences.
Caution: Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a really neat visual aid will do all the work and carry your point for you. In the final analysis, your speech and subject matter must be the emphasis.
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