It is very helpful to use visual aids in your presentation, as it helps people to understand. People learn visually as well as orally. Particularly if your accent is different from your audience’s accent, it can be very helpful to let them see your keywords.


Overheads are the easiest and most reliable form of visual aids. You can use them as a prompt for your talk, so that you may not need cards. [But don’t read word-for-word from your overheads!]

Be careful to:
Use bold typeface, and a minimum of size 16 font [Check that your overheads are readable by placing them beside you on the floor and looking down at them. Can you read them?]
Use no more than seven or eight main points on an overhead [Overheads that have too many words on them are no use at all]
Give your audience time to take notes from your overhead
Make sure your audience can see the overhead screen [Where are you standing? Is it directly in front of the screen?]
Using colour, pictures and graphs can make your overheads more interesting [But don’t overcrowd your overheads with too much detail]


You can use PowerPoint software to produce very professional overheads, or to make a computer-based presentation. If you would like to learn more about it, you can ask the Computer Centre Service Desk for more information.
Remember that PowerPoint may look great, but if the technology goes wrong you may be very embarrassed. It’s a good idea to print out a handout, or have some overheads as a backup just in case.
Sometimes students are tempted to spend more time on producing PowerPoint graphics than on the actual talk. Remember—if your talk is poor, no amount of fancy graphics will save it!


Handouts are a great idea. Think about whether you want to distribute them before or after your presentation. It is a good idea to include your references on a handout, so that people can follow up on them later. You could also include some follow-up questions for discussion.

Using the whiteboard (or blackboard)

If possible, put your information on the whiteboard/blackboard before the talk begins, otherwise you will have to turn your back on the audience and break your eye contact with them, which is never a good idea. Writing on a board is also time-consuming. Use alternative visual aids wherever possible.

If you really must use a whiteboard, come prepared with the right pens (use pens clearly marked ‘Whiteboard Marker’— don’t use anything else) and write in large neat writing, so that people can read it.

Checking out the facilities

Whenever possible, check the facilities of the room where you are going to deliver your talk. Does the overhead processor work? How does it turn on and off? Where is the plug for the computer? Is there a whiteboard, or is it a blackboard? If a blackboard, is chalk provided?