Presentation Tools: 3 Visuals You Need to Know More About

Presentation Tools: 3 Visuals You Need to Know More About

Let’s talk about presentation tools. Why are visual aids so tricky to use?

Maybe you have too many, maybe you don’t have enough. Or maybe the few you include are just . . . bleh.

To avoid using the wrong picture or video, here are a few tips to help you use three presentation tools better: cartoons, images, and videos.


We all know pictures are worth a thousand words. And that’s part of the reason why we love them in presentations. But are those words the right thousand words?

Figuring out the answer to that question requires understanding the role of the picture. In Speaking Visually: Eight Roles Pictures Play in Presentation, Robert Lane and Andre Vicek break down the uses of images as presentation tools:

  • You can tell if a picture is decorative if the message doesn’t change when the picture is removed. “Decorative pictures essentially are visual fluff.”
  • Images that offer background or that ground an abstract idea are images that provide context.
  • A little twist on the common adage: show while you tell.
  • When your audience sees (not reads) your content, they learn it quicker.
  • There isn’t a quicker way to show similarities and differences than two images side by side.
  • Using pictures for analogies helps “clarify something unknown” with something known.
  • Use pictures to tell a story or simplify a process.

Know your pictures and know what kind of work they’re doing—the perfect image meaningfully adds to your presentation. And if they aren’t doing their part, cut ‘em loose.

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Sharing a cartoon in your presentation is a great way to engage your audience. Lane and Vicek shared five tips for adding cartoons:

  1. Drawing your own cartoon allows you to tailor the message to perfectly fit your presentation.
  2. Cartoons are funny, and people usually like them. But they’re not in the audience to see Dilbert.
  3. Get to the point and get to it quick.
  4. You don’t need an icebreaker. You are the icebreaker. So break that ice with confidence.
  5. Like anything in your presentation, humor needs to be drafted and reviewed. Make sure it fits.

Cartoons are great; they’re especially great when they’re relevant (think Calvin & Hobbes in a child psychology class), quickly understood, and not first.


I can’t talk about presentation tools without talking about moving pictures. (That’s what the young people call them these days, right?) If pictures are worth a thousand words, videos are worth a billion.

Lisa B. Marshall from Quick and Dirty Tips walks us through 6 tips to maximize the effectiveness of video in your presentations:

Remember Who’s Presenting

You are. Not the video. And the “video should never deliver your primary message.”

Get the Customer on the Screen

Videos of customer testimonials lend a lot of credibility to your claims.

Show; Don’t Tell

When you need to explain a behavior, show it through video rather than describing it.

Simplify Complex Processes

Like showing and not telling, videos of complex processes are easier to understand than a presenter rambling about how space and time are part of the same continuum.

Experts are a Must

In addition to customer testimonials, videos of experts also increase your credibility.

Keep it Short

Relative to your presentation, videos need to be short. Remember, you’re the one on stage presenting, not the video.

Video is a nice presentation tool to convey a message. Consider using it next time in your presentation. But make sure to go through the checklist to make sure the video is doing all you need it to.

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Using cartoons, pictures, and videos are great presentation tools. Just remember to use them right.