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How To Do a Visual Presentation

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Publication Number: P1096
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What Is a 4-H Visual Presentation?

A visual presentation is a teaching method used to communicate an idea. Charts, flannel boards, flash cards, slides, models, photography, or chalk boards are aids that can be used. A visual presentation includes demonstrations and illustrated talks, and can sell an audience on the importance of an idea.

A 4-H visual presentation teaches you to do the following:

  • Express yourself clearly.
  • Research a subject.
  • Organize ideas in logical order.
  • Emphasize the major points of a presentation through visuals.
  • Develop poise in speaking before a group.
  • Develop self-confidence.
  • Develop these attitudes and feelings:
    • “I can do it.” – pride in skill.
    • “I’m in.” – the fun of belonging to a group.
    • “What I say and do count.” – a feeling of status in the group, acquired from taking part.
    • “I can get and give help.” – a feeling of interdependence and security as a group member.

The Starting Point

Start with something in the 4-H program you learned well and will be able to use often. The information should be easily understood, usable, and worthwhile for the audience.

Choose a Subject

Be aware of others’, as well as your own, interests when selecting a subject. The subject should fit your interests, experience, knowledge, and skills. It should be exciting, not dull. It should be challenging, not routine.


Come up with numerous ideas for the subject. Do not eliminate or criticize any idea until you list all possibilities. The more the better! Possible ideas could include:

  • Something you have done in a project.
  • Something you do well.
  • Something you would like to know more about.
  • Something others might be interested in.
  • Something you are enthusiastic about.
  • Something you believe in.
  • Something that challenges your abilities.

From your list of ideas, choose one that...

  • Is unique.
  • Is suited to the age group and income level of the audience.
  • Has a theme that can carry out your purpose in giving the visual presentation.
  • Has a clever title.
  • Appeals to the interests of the audience.
  • Is limited to one idea, not several.

The Plan

Plan your visual presentation on paper. Planning saves time and is the key to an effective visual presentation. It includes the following:

  • Listing the supplies you need (equipment, easel, charts, others).
  • Collecting information that is correct and approved by the Cooperative Extension Service.
  • Listing the steps to be shown, in order.
  • Deciding what you will say along with each step.
  • Planning how you’ll use equipment and materials.

The Skeleton Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Summary
Introduction (Why)

Greet your audience. Introduce yourself. Use a gimmick to draw in the attention of your audience. Gimmicks could include:

  • Personal experience.
  • Flashy poster.
  • Famous saying, riddle, poem, or skit.
  • Song or film clip.
  • Dramatic or shocking statement or problem.
  • Ask a question.
  • Show a completed product.
Body (How)
  • Discuss the main points.
  • Explain each step.
  • Eliminate unnecessary information that does not contribute to the main points.
Summary (What)
  • Highlight the main points.
  • State sources of information.
  • Ask for questions.

Plan Your Visuals

The primary purpose of visual aids, such as posters and charts, is to add interest and sparkle and to explain a point further. Experiment to determine the type visual best suited to your topic – actual objects, posters, charts, cartoons, flannel boards, flip charts, or something else.

Make the visual easy to see. Notice the tables that relate viewing distance to a letter size and thickness, and letter colors to background colors.

Letter Size for Visibility; Assuming Good Light, Good Eyes, And Good Color


Letter Size

Line Thickness

10 feet

1/2 inch

3/32 inch

20 feet

3/4 inch

1/8 inch

50 feet

2 inches

5/16 inch

100 feet

3 1/2 inches

11/16 inch

300 feet

11 inches

2 inches

To evaluate your visual, ask yourself:

  • Is it needed?
  • Does it focus attention on what you want to emphasize?
  • Is it large enough for the audience to see?
  • Is it neat and simple?
  • Is it on heavy cardboard that will not buckle or bend?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is it simple to design?
  • Is it colorful?
  • Does it stress or explain a point?

Color Combinations for Good Visibility

  • Black on yellow
  • Black on orange
  • Yellow orange on navy blue
  • Bottle green on white
  • Scarlet red on white
  • Black on white
  • Navy blue on white
  • White on navy blue
  • Yellow orange on black
  • White on black
  • White on bottle green
  • White on scarlet red
  • White on purple
  • Purple on white
  • Navy blue on yellow
  • Navy blue on orange
  • Yellow on black
  • Scarlet red on yellow
  • Yellow on navy blue
  • Purple on yellow
  • Purple on orange
  • White on emerald green
  • Bottle green on yellow
  • Scarlet red on orange
  • Emerald green on white
  • Yellow on purple
  • Orange on purple
  • Bottle green on orange
  • Emerald green on yellow
  • Orange on yellow

Consider the Title

Titles that are most effective usually are short, descriptive, and image making. A title should suggest the visual presentation subject without telling the whole story. Sometimes it is easier to select the idea, develop the visual presentation, and then decide on a title.

Plan Your Appearance

Dress neatly and be well groomed. Clothing does not need to be a traditional uniform, but it should keep with the occasion. Perhaps a conservative costume is just the thing to add extra interest.

Follow these appearance guides:

  • Avoid wearing heavy, dangling jewelry.
  • Stand tall – do not lean on table or twist one foot behind the other.
  • Have eye contact with the audience.
  • Avoid mannerisms that may distract the audience, such as pushing back hair, rocking back and forth, jingling change.

Be Prepared

Arrange posters in the order you wish to use them. A small number on the back of the poster will help. Arrange them conveniently and attractively so your audience can see all processes. You should have only the necessary items in view.

A few helpful hints include the following:

  • Loosen caps and tops before beginning.
  • Cover brand names.

If you use trays,

  • line them with paper towels to lessen noise.
  • place tall items in back
  • arrange in order of use.

Practice Your Delivery

  • Practice will help you:
  • Do things in a logical order.
  • Stay within the time limit.
  • Use visuals skillfully.
  • Know if you have enough information about the subject.

Practice before anyone who will listen, and ask for suggestions. Each time you give the visual presentation, think how it could be improved. Remember your key points and work to find the best way to get them across. Practice will give you poise and confidence. Ask a friend to use the visual presentation contest score sheet (Form 334) to evaluate your presentation.

Your Visual Presentation

  • Now, for the actual presentation! These hints should help you be sure the visual presentation will run smoothly.
  • Set up the visual presentation as quickly as possible.
  • Check posters, charts, and easels before beginning (for proper sequence and to see that each is secure).
  • Move equipment and supplies out of the way as you finish with them.
  • Keep the space in front of you clear and uncluttered so the view of the audience won’t be blocked.
  • Work quietly.
  • Control your voice. Speak loudly enough to be heard and understood. Also, speak slowly.
  • You do not need to talk constantly during the presentation, but do avoid long, unnatural pauses.
  • Your visual presentations will usually be more interesting if given without notes. This shows that you have practiced and have a good understanding of the subject matter. If you use notes, put them in outline form and use them inconspicuously.
  • Do not talk when your back is to the audience.


At the conclusion, ask for questions from the audience. To be sure you and other members of the audience understand what was asked, repeat the question before you answer it.


Don’t quit now -- you are making progress.

You will find many places to present good visual presentations: in 4-H club meetings; 4-H council meetings; project training workshops, and 4-H visual presentation contests. You can learn to give a visual presentation, then you can teach someone else. Pass it on.

Each time you give the visual presentation, try to improve it. Do your best to make the visual presentation a learning experience for you and your audience.

Publication 1096 (POD-08-19)

Distributed by John Long, PhD, Assistant Extension Professor, 4-H Youth Development.

Copyright 2019 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Produced by Agricultural Communications.

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Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director

Department: Ctr 4-H Youth Development
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