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Section 2.10.3

Overheads and Other Display Media

Overheads, whether acetate or digital,or other display media are usually the only physical, tangible meansyour audience has to follow your oral presentation. Therefore, learn how to prepare such visualmaterials effectively.

Viewgraphs (Acetate Overheads)

Viewgraphs are the most common method for displaying visuals and limited text during an oral report. Viewgraphs are made from 8½-by-11-inch acetatetransparencies, onto which you photocopy the information you want to display.

Preparing Viewgraph Text

Choose the correct orientation of viewgraph--landscape (long edge on horizontal) or portrait (shorteredge on horizontal)--based on content, room size, distance to the screen, audience seatingarrangement, and perhaps any preference expressed by the sponsoring organization.

Title each viewgraph at the top. Titles should be in boldface and largeenough to read (try 36-point type).

Put main points in a bulleted list; subpoints of bulleted items shouldbe indented beneath the bulleted item. Avoid writing complete sentences and wordwrapped lines. Use phrases and keywords instead. Avoid tables on viewgraphs.

Keep mathematics to a minimum by showing governing equationsonly, not detailed derivations. (If you think you will be asked how an equation was derived, you canprepare these slides for possible use during the question-and-answer period.)

Preparing Viewgraph Figures

Choose the correct orientation of viewgraph--landscape (long edge on horizontal) or portrait (shorteredge on horizontal)--based on content, room size, distance to the screen, audience seatingarrangement, and perhaps any preference expressed by the sponsoring organization.

Title each viewgraph at the top (you do not need to number viewgraphfigures as you do in a written report). Titles should be in boldfaceand large enough to read (try 36-point type).

Figures should be schematic andgraphs should be simplified if taken from a written report.

Digital Overheads

Software exists that permits you to create digital "overheads" that may be displayed using a smallcomputer and a specially designed device atop an ordinary overhead projector. All of the guidelinesthat are presented for acetate overheads apply to digital overheads. However, digital overheads canbe much more elaborate in design than the commonplace acetate overhead. As with any tool,however, you should be familiar with their limitations. Follow these simple rules for constructingdigital overheads:

In general, digital overheads may grab an audience's attention initially, but it is your content and style of speaking that will hold them throughout your presentation.

Flipcharts, Whiteboards, Chalkboards

At informal oral presentations, such as meetings, you sometimes make use of flipcharts (large sheets of paperbound at the top edge and placed on an easel), whiteboards (light-colored surfaces for writing onwith dry markers), or chalkboards to display general points or to record items of discussion as theyarise. These graphic media, while basic, are nevertheless subtle focusing tools for a speaker or theleader of a meeting. "Whoever controls the blackboard, controls the meeting" is an old saying butnonetheless often a true one. Effective managers know that the items that are recorded on theflipchart or board are the items that focus the discussion as it proceeds and are generally the pointsof discussion that get recorded in the minutes of a meeting.

Learn these basic techniques for using flipcharts and boards:

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