Overhead Projector Usage

There are many a time when (for better or worse) a speaker decides to use an overhead projector to enhance a presentation. This, more often then not, can destroy not only the presentation but the integrity of the speaker, if not handled properly. Overheads are a powerful tool in a presenters arsenal. They help convey ideas, drive particular points home as well as giving one the ability to display charts, graphs and pictures clearly. The proper use and preparation is of utmost importance when using a tool such as this.

Here are some points you must ask yourself before using this tool:

1. Is it necessary for me to use an overhead projector?

2. What value does the projection add?

3. Could more value come from using flip-charts, posters or handouts?

Now, if you have decided that an overhead is necessary, this is what you must do:

1. Get Your Thoughts In Order

2. Make Up Your Transparencies

A) don't put your whole speech on transparencies, just key points and ideas

B) limit each visual to one idea

C) keep transparencies simple - no more than six lines per transparency, no more than six words on a line

D) use 18 point type or larger to make it easy to read

E) don't use more than two type styles on any single visual

F) mix upper-case letters for easy readability

G) use a common background theme for associated transparencies and ideas

H) don't use exclamation marks, even from a short distance, they look like the number one

3. Pre-Test Your Hardware So You Know It's Working

A) use a graphic image with text (one not used in your presentation) to test equipment and focus

B) most overheads can only effectively project for a distance of up to 20 feet; make sure your projector is within that space


4. Position Material On The Upper Part Of The Projection Surface

5. View Your Overheads From All Angles, Especially The Sides And Back Of The Room, To Ensure They'll Be Clearly Read By Everyone

6. Don't Turn Off All Room Lights When Using A Projector

A) if this is not possible, bring a lamp or two on low dimmers to help your audience see you; this also allows you to see any notes you may be using

7. Turn The Projector Lamp Off While Changing Slides Or During Discussions

8. Never Stand Or Place Anything Between The Projection And Screen Or Wall As It Visually Distracts And Distorts Information

A) when you must point to details on overheads, use a pen or pencil, place it on the slide and get your hand out of the picture

B) If someone is working the projector for you, use a laser pointer to point at the screen but keep in mind that this can eliminate the color red from your slides

9. Give People Time To Read And Mentally Process What's On The Screen

10. Talk To Your Listeners Not The Screen


Although this list is not complete, it will help get you started with your presentation.

Information and thoughts on this page were submitted by William Corey,DTM.
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