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How to use visual aids in public speaking (or how cake saved the world in seven minutes)

June 20, 2013

This isn’t Keiran, or his cake, but you get the idea nonetheless

I’ve seen so many presentations blighted by terrible use of powerpoint or cringeworthy use of a flipchart and in that I’m sure I’m not alone.  At Toastmasters, one of the core speeches in the ten sepeech programme, the “number 8”, is all about effective use of visual aids.  Recently I saw a fantastic speech at our public speaking club from a man who went all out in his efforts to communicate a message with visual aids. In this post I ask Keiran, how exactly he went about it and what he learned from it:

The Number 8 Visual Aids speech in the Competent Communicator can be a daunting speech for many.  But the great thing about Toastmasters is the chance to explore the outer boundaries of your imagination and aim improve yourself every time you speak.  For me, the Visual Aids speech was a defining moment in my public speaking development, so why not explore the edges of your creativity, challenge your skills and see where you go. 

The cake the saved the world speech was a few months in the making.  I had an idea about a cake as an easy visual aid to share with the audience in a speech.  After a bit of lateral thinking, the speech grew to include kitchen utensils, bowls, sugar, flour butter + a cracked egg, 4 presidents, the UN Security Council, impersonations, a cake, audience participation and me of course looking like an idiot dressed up in chefs uniform!  People say keep your visual aids speech simple and perhaps that is sound advice.  I thought that having a few visual aids would be easy to enhance the points I was trying to make, but this speech turned out to be something that stretched the very limits of my public speaking ability. 

However when you think about it, that is the most important point and my biggest lesson from doing the number 8.  For every time we get up to speak, particularly this speech, we should aim to stretch ourselves to the edge of our knowledge and ability.   For me my visual aids speech was a great opportunity to test my outer edges and in those seven minutes where caked saved the world, I sensed my speaking skills took some giant leaps forward. 

So use the Number 8 to your advantage.  Think radical and give yourself a challenge.  Above all, enjoy yourself and have some fun. 

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