Visual Communication – Meaning, Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

Visual Communication- Meaning, Types, Advantages and Disadvantages


Visual communication is communication through a visual aid and is described as the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon. Such as facial expression, gesture, eye contact, signals, map, chart, poster etc. it also includes graphic design, illustration and animation, books, print, magazines, screen-based media, interactive web design, short film, design for advertising, promotion, corporate identity and packaging design etc.

Visual aids

Visual aids are often used to help audiences of informative and persuasive speeches understand the topic being presented. Visual aids can play a large role in how the audience understands and takes in information that is presented. There are many different types of visual aids that range from handouts to Power Points. The type of visual aid a speaker uses depends on their preference and the information they are trying to present. Each type of visual aid has pros and cons that must be evaluated to ensure it will be beneficial to the overall presentation. Before incorporating visual aids into speeches, the speaker should understand that if used incorrectly, the visual will not be an aid, but a distraction.Planning ahead is important when using visual aids. It is necessary to choose a visual aid that is appropriate for the material and audience. The purpose of the visual aid is to enhance the presentation.

Types of visual aids


  • The use of objects as visual aids involves bringing the actual object to demonstrate on during the speech. For example, a speech about tying knots would be more effective by bringing in a rope.
  • Pro: the use of the actual object is often necessary when demonstrating how to do something so that the audience can fully understand procedure.
  • Con: some objects are too large or unavailable for a speaker to bring with them.


  • Models are representations of another object that serve to demonstrate that object when use of the real object is ineffective for some reason. Examples include human skeletal systems, the solar system, or architecture.
  • Pros: models can serve as substitutes that provide a better example of the real thing to the audience when the object being spoken about is of an awkward size or composure for use in the demonstration.
  • Cons: sometimes a model may take away from the reality of what is being spoken about. For example, the vast size of the solar system cannot be seen from a model, and the actual composure of a human body cannot be seen from a dummy.


  • Graphs are used to visualize relationships between different quantities. Various types are used as visual aids, including bar graphs, line graphs, pie graphs, and scatter plots.
  • Pros: graphs help the audience to visualize statistics so that they make a greater impact than just listing them verbally would.
  • Cons: graphs can easily become cluttered during use in a speech by including too much detail, overwhelming the audience and making the graph ineffective.


  • Maps show geographic areas that are of interest to the speech. They often are used as aids when speaking of differences between geographical areas or showing the location of something.
  • Pros: when maps are simple and clear, they can be used to effectively make points about certain areas. For example, a map showing the building site for a new hospital could show its close location to key neighbourhoods, or a map could show the differences in distribution of AIDS victims in North American and African countries.
  • Cons: inclusion of too much detail on a map can cause the audience to lose focus on the key point being made. Also, if the map is disproportional or unrealistic, it may prove ineffective for the point being made.


  • Tables are columns and rows that organize words, symbols, and/or data.
  • Pros: Good tables are easy to understand. They are a good way to compare facts and to gain a better overall understanding of the topic being discussed. For example, a table is a good choice to use when comparing the amount of rainfall in 3 counties each month.
  • Cons: Tables are not very interesting or pleasing to the eye. They can be overwhelming if too much information is in a small space or the information is not organized in a convenient way. A table is not a good choice to use if the person viewing it has to take a lot of time to be able to understand it. Tables can be visual distractions if it is hard to read because the font is too small or the writing is too close together. It can also be a visual distraction if the table is not drawn evenly.


 Photographs are good tools to make or emphasize a point or to explain a topic. For example, when explaining the shanty-towns in a third word country it would be beneficial to show a picture of one so the reader can have a better understanding of how those people live.

  • Pros:A photograph is also good to use when the actual object cannot be viewed. For example, in a health class learning about cocaine, the teacher cannot bring in cocaine to show the class because that would be illegal, but the teacher could show a picture of cocaine to the class. Using local photos can also help emphasize how your topic is important in the audience’s area.
  • Cons: If the photograph is too small it just becomes a distraction. Enlarging photographs can be expensive if not using a power point or other viewing device.

Drawings or diagrams

  • Pros: Drawings or diagrams can be used when photographs do not show exactly what the speaker wants to show or explain. It could also be used when a photograph is too detailed. For example, a drawing or diagram of the circulatory system throughout the body is a lot more effective than a picture of a cadaver showing the circulatory system.
  • Cons:If not drawn correctly a drawing can look sloppy and be ineffective. This type of drawing will appear unprofessional.


Projections, either transparencies or slides, allow audiences to see graphics or photographs easily, especially when audiences are large or spread out in a large   room. Since slides and transparencies look more professional than posters or flip charts, business speakers often prefer them.

  • Pros: Easy to  prepare, update and  maintain and locate.
  • Cons:Hold speaker captive to the machine.
Computer-assisted presentations

Power Point presentations can be an extremely useful visual aid, especially for longer presentations. For five- to ten-minute presentations, it is probably not worth the time or effort to put together a Power Point. For longer presentations, however, Power Points can be a great way to keep the audience engaged and keep the speaker on track.

  • Pros:If you need to add a slide to the program, you can insert new material quickly and easily, and you can even change a slide during your presentation.It creates professional appearance with colour, art, graphics, and font options.
  • Cons:A potential drawback of using a Power Point is that it usually takes a lot of time and energy to put together. There is also the possibility of a computer malfunction, which can mess up the flow of a presentation.
Visual Communication – Meaning, Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

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