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Master the arts of creating and performing talks

Never Make a Slide Like This

Bad slide

This came up on my Twitter feed after someone took a screenshot of a presentation slide and tweeted it. I’m sure the intent was to share what the tweeter thought was a great idea. What jumped out at me wasn’t the idea but that the slide was terrible. Too harsh? Maybe. Especially rough because the presenter is a well-meaning person with great ideas to share. But this slide is terrible. There is no nice way to say it.

Never use bullet points.

Why bullet points? Totally unnecessary. THERE IS NO LAW THAT SAYS ALL SLIDES MUST HAVE BULLET POINTS! In no way is the slide improved because of the bullet points. In no way is it diminished if bullet points are removed. More importantly, bullet points are a way of saying you have too much on one slide. We aren’t wasting paper here. Separate slides have much more impact. Let us focus on one idea at a time. Empower! [click to next slide] Promote! [click to next slide] and so on.

Never read at your audience.

Why are you there? If every word is on a slide, you are unnecessary. This speaker made herself/himself redundant. If you are committed to complete sentences, write an article and hand it out. If for some reason you want your article in PowerPoint form, make slides like this one and send us the PowerPoint. No one wants to sit in a room and have presenters read at us. We know how to read. Plus, it is difficult to read text while listening. If you want the audience to read, shut up and let them read without distraction. If you want to make a point, take down the verbiage and talk to us.

Key words only!

But let’s say you want key points presented visually. Your theory is that some people are visual learners and need to see something. Maybe, but they don’t need to see every word you say. They need key words. You are there for a reason. You are there to present, to talk, to explain. Don’t have slides doing your job. See the key word which in isolation is much more impactful–listen to me explain its importance. Cut the fat. This also makes it easier on the audience. They won’t have to work as hard. They won’t have to read your whole book while they are trying to listen.

Never have many words on a slide.

Where did we get the idea that people come to presentations to read? Shouldn’t presentations be about presenting? About oral communication? Many people have made this point and fought to change the wordy/bullet point mindset, yet the message hasn’t caught on as the slide at the top of this article demonstrates. The core messages of that slide are buried in unnecessary words.

Use images.

Why the word “Empower” when an image is so much more powerful and memorable? Why not visit unsplash.com and download this picture for free? Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

miguel-bruna-503098-unsplash

Tell us that we should empower students to be readers, writers, and leaders. Put up a new slide with a new image and tell us what to promote.

In other words, do your job! Be a presenter, not a reading supervisor.