Have you ever gone to a class or a presentation prepared to just listen or perhaps jot down a thought or two, only to be been bombarded with slide after slide of text, making you feel as if you had to get it all down? You may have left feeling as if you had drowned in a sea of information with nothing to think about after you left and a few pages of scrawled notes.
Slides are meant to punctuate your presentation, not outline it or display it nearly word for word. Remember: slides and visuals in aren’t for you. They are for you audience.
Slides with several bulleted points are too busy for the audience and takes their attention off of you. But when used correctly, slides can underscore the most important aspect of each section of your speech in your listeners’ mind.
Consider your audience. No more than six words on a slide, according to speaker and entrepreneur Seth Godin. And nothing on the lower quarter to third of the bottom of the slide.
Remember, depending on the setup of the room, many of your audience members may be seeing your visuals over the heads of several rows of other people. What about the design element? Find a font and color combination you like and stick with it throughout your presentation.
A powerful photograph paired with a few words can help your message resonate.
An entire document. Too many words will be lost on your audience and most of them won’t even be able to see it from their seats. Long lists or entire sections of your speech don’t belong.
Never, ever turn your back on your audience to read from the slide. It’s just as important as ever to make eye contact as you talk.
A good rule of thumb is no more than 10 slides for a thirty minute presentation. Even fewer is better.
Saving the Best for Last
Create your slides after your presentation is written. This will allow you to pull out a few key points you want to emphasize rather than focusing on the content of your speech at the same time you are creating slides.
Think of it as using a highlighter to mark the most important parts of an article and take a look at Nancy Duarte’s tips for creating great slides.
Take advantage of a speech you recently gave where you wanted to use slides but weren’t sure how to, or did use slides but weren’t entirely happy with the outcome. Use some of the tips we discussed as well as this great beginner’s guide to master slide basics and see what you can come with.
You can also sit down with your speech and go through it highlight the points you want to illustrate. Transfer each point to one side of a small card or Post-It note and, on the other side, write down no more than three words that describe what you want to illustrate. You can use those words to look for images later.
Send me an example of one your slides that you’re most proud of. I would love to know how it went in the comment section below!