When considering what type of visual representation to use for your data or ideas, there are some rules of thumb to consider:

1. Use visuals sparingly. One of the biggest problems in presentations is the overuse of visuals. A useful rule of thumb is one visual for every two minutes of presentation time.

2. Use visuals pictorially. Graphs, pictures of equipment, flow charts, etc., all give the viewer an insight that would require many words or columns of numbers.

3. Present one key point per visual. Keep the focus of the visual simple and clear. Presenting more than one main idea per visual can detract from the impact.

4. Make text and numbers legible. Minimum font size for most room set-ups is 18 pt. Can you read everything? if not, make it larger. Highlight the areas of charts where you want the audience to focus.

5. Use colour carefully. Use no more than 3-4 colours per visual to avoid a rainbow effect. Colours used should contrast with each other to provide optimum visibility. For example, a dark blue background with light yellow letters or numbers. Avoid patterns in colour presentations; they are difficult to distinguish.

6. Make visuals big enough to see. Walk to the last row where people will be sitting and make sure that everything on the visual can be seen clearly.

7. Graph data. Whenever possible avoid tabular data in favour of graphs. Graphs allow the viewer to picture the information and data in a way that numbers alone can’t do.

8. Make pictures and diagrams easy to see. Too often pictures and diagrams are difficult to see from a distance. The best way to check is to view it from the back of the room where the audience will be. Be careful that labels inside the diagrams are legible from the back row also.

9. Make visuals attractive. If using colour, use high contrast such as yellow on black or yellow on dark blue. Avoid clutter and work for simplicity and clarity.

10. Avoid miscellaneous visuals, If something can be stated simply and verbally, such as the title of a presentation, there is no need for a visual.