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TED TALKS: Visual Aids

Visual aids are great, until they’re not. Use them correctly, and your message is impactful and easy to understand; use them incorrectly, and no one will remember what you said.

Here are three things to keep in mind as you prepare for your TED Talk:

#1 — Visual aids are meant to be…visual.

The biggest mistake people make is to include too much text. Just remember that it’s a careful balance, and the text you include should emphasize your message, not compete with it. Instead, think images, videos, and sound effects.

#2 — Be strategic.

Visual aids can both enhance your presentation AND act as an outline for you, the presenter. What do we mean? Include images, videos, sound effects, and text that remind you of your next point.  The confidence monitors at your feet allow you to see the current screen and the upcoming screen, so rely on your visual aids instead of a separate outline to keep your presentation on topic.

#3 — Use spell check. 

About a year ago, Sen. Maria Cantwell (now referred to as “Sen. Cantspell”) failed to use spell check in her argument against the Republican health care bill. This mistake cost her the message. Though tedious, make sure every word you use is spelled correctly. The extra effort is worth it.

3 things to consider (and avoid) before you go on live TV

Last week was a study in what happens when props fail, both in public presentations and media interviews.

Props can be a great addition to help make your point, but please proceed with caution. You risk more by using the prop than not, so here are three things to consider (and avoid) before you go on live TV:

1. Use spell check! This floor poster made us LOL.

Last week, Sen. Maria Cantwell (now referred to as “Sen. Cantspell”) was trying to make a point against the Republican health care bill, yet forgot to spell check her prop. #YouHadOneJob

2. Props should never make an appearance in media interviews, and Kellyanne Conway proved why. Though she was using her flash cards to clear up confusion about the Russia saga, it didn’t seem to have the intended effect.

(We’re confused. We don’t understand.)

But also, the signs were a distraction from her main message. Instead of listening to what she said, we tuned her out to watch as she awkwardly broke the frame to pull the signs into the shot. When you have to pull props into a live shot, you’re doing it wrong.

3. Don’t be the punchline. Beware of any potential for a screen shot to be made into a meme. We saw this happen to President Trump when he lifted up a copy of a just-signed executive order. The prop took on a life of its own, not only creating memes, but also a meme generator.

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