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Designing Visual Aids Skill- Let’s Start an Innovation

As what we have all learnt at school, none was born with any particular norms or values inside our mind. Everything we know and have now got started from a zero
Designing Visual Aids Skill- Let’s Start an Innovation

All the features of individuals are the result of genetic, society and mainly education. Therefore, it is unfair to claim that our classmates learn better than us due to the financial condition or good skills from parents because we all receive the same education at school. Now turn to the visual aids designing skill, how are these facts related to my writing? My purpose of the facts mentioned above is just to remind all of us of a thing that everything can be learnt! Today, in this writing, it is my intention to share with others about some tips for effective Visual aids, especially PowerPoint designing skill from my limited knowledge about this field. Hopefully, it can help all of us to improve this skill and raise an awareness to this essential issue.

Just like any other students, when I first got started with PowerPoint, it was not my concern to attempt to make them suitable for my audiences. Now, when I have a chance to look back my PowerPoint presentations, I just realize they are terrible disasters. Eventually, with some information in this writing about designing PowerPoint effectively, I hope that others will avoid the mistakes I made before.

Firstly, let me discuss a bit some studies that were carried out by experts about this issue. In 2008, Dr. Medina wrote his best- seller book called brain rules, which is one of the best books about how brain organizes information. In those 12 rules, Reynolds, one of popular experts about presentations assumed that rule 1, 4 and 10 are very helpful for presenters. They are: “exercise boosts brain power, we don’t pay attention to boring things and vision trumps all other senses.” Also, in his famous book about presentation, Presentation zen, he claimed that there are 4 important things that people should consider when designing a PowerPoint presentation: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity. These information provides me a strong literature review for my writing. Thus, in this writing, I will discuss about some key points that supposed to be important to me when designing a visual aid, especially PowerPoint presentation. They are: simplicity and contrast.

  1. Simplicity:

What is simplicity with visual aids designing? Well, there is no particular formula for a simple- is- enough visual aid designing. It depends mainly on what we want to say in our product. In order to describe better this term, I want to show you a slide of my friend in her presentation:




What can we see form the slide above? Is it simple enough? It can be clearly to see that the slide is too complicated with colorful background, many texts, etc. So, here are some advices for a simple slide:

–          About text:

  • One font only.
  • Keep your text simple with simple fonts.
  • No more than 6 lines per slide.
  • No Capital or italic words. If necessary, color and size change is the best way to empathies.
  • Reduce as much as text you can. No text is OK.

It is a pity that the slide above is a typical slide of many students when they design a visual aid or PowerPoint presentations. So, if you are making any mistakes above, you should stop it right now, stop killing your audiences.

–          About photo:

  • Stay away from clip arts.
  • Use high quality photos instead of bad ones.
  • One photo per slide only.

Although there is no formula for an ideal PowerPoint slide, it is my experience to put on a slide one photo and 1 line of text only. If the photo can already transfer your idea, it is reasonable to leave out the text. Clip art is a terrible thing for PowerPoint because it distracts audiences from the main points. Let’s now have a look at about how photo effects on a slide:



The photo in the left is a disaster for PowerPoint designing as well as visual aids. Instead, the photo in the better one with clear text, high quality photo and background. in the photo in the left, it can be easy to see that the picture already says: North Pole. So, it is unnecessary to say North Pole again.

–          About animation:

  • Avoid using many animations if they are not necessary.

If we do not know much about the roles of animation, we should not use it regularly. When we present, the short- term memory of audiences are already overloaded. Do not try to poison them more by distracting animations.

  1. Contrast:

– About text and background:

Contrast is very important when we design a visual aid. The reason for this is very simple: if it cannot be seen well, it cannot be a good one. When the PowerPoint presentations are showed on the screen, the texts may disappear if we use the words color and background color similarly. So, it is very important to use contrast words and background color.

–          About the information:

When we make a presentation, sometimes, we want to stress to something important. Well, it’s time to think about the size and color. The contrast between elements in the slide helps your audiences find out the more important information easily. Moreover, your PowerPoint also becomes more professional. Let’s now have a closer look at this picture:


As we can see from the photo above, the colors of words and background are very similar. So, they are very easy to get lost on the screen.

Here are some of my little share about visual aids designing and PowerPoint. I hope that it can help some of us to improve designing skill and avoid making dull, useless PowerPoint presentations; which leads to the waste of money and time. Let’s now make a renovation for this new field at school!


Medina, J. (2008). Brainrules. Retrieved August 22, 2012, from http://www.brainrules.net/exercise

Reynolds, G. (2008). Brain rules for PowerPoint & Keynote presenters. Retrieved August 22, 2012, from http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2008/05/brain-rules-for.html

Tác giả bài viết: Trần Hải Yến

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