Guidelines for Graphic and Visual Communication

These six criteria for Graphic and visual aids apply to both written and oral presentations. The aid should be...

1. Appropriate
Is the aid appropriate for the presentation, the subject matter, the audience, and the place ? For example, you show a slide show focused on two 6-x 8-foot screen to four people-they would be fabricated.

2. Relevant
Is the aid relevant to the segment of the subject being discussed ? Place or use the aid close to the related point of discussion. Don't use a graphic that is not clearly related to the topic under discussion. Each graph should be used to help you in your explanation and to help the reader/listener to understand what you are discussing.

3. Visible
Graphic and visual aids should be visible to all. When you are giving an oral presentation, whether the room seats 100 or 10,the very last person in the very last row should be able to use your aid. Set up your equipment 30 minutes before your presentation, and test the visibility from every position in the room. If your aids are to be used in a written presentation, make them large enough to read. Visual and graphic aids must be read to be understood.

4. Clear
Your audience must be able to determine what it is they are seeing. If the material is not readily understandable, be sure your explanation makes it so.

5. Simple
Simplicity provides impact. The kiss principle applies here: "Keep it simple, stupid." Long involved explanations of a graphic are often confusing. The most successful aids are very simple. Some may be a list of key points, explained in two or three words. They help to keep the audience with you and provide visual emphasis of the aspects you consider important. Be careful, of course, no to insult their intelligence by being too simple.On the other hand, don't let your visuals carry the burden of your message.

6. Manageable
Visual, such as charts,  graphs, pictures, maps and drawings must be fit to the size of the report. It's difficult to open a 17-by-22-inch map from within the pages. It's also difficult to build a report including such a visual. Manageability is an important consideration to you as a speaker.

You need to maintain your composure, Your presentation and your visuals simultaneously. Planning your visuals carefully according to these guidelines will allow you to do just that.