This is the second in a series of three companion posts to my talk at the BCS on 24th May 2017.
We spoke in Part One of this series about creating change with your audience and finding a story to help achieve that. Any slides or other visuals you use when presenting (and it’s usually slides) must serve one purpose: to support your story. You and your story are the presentation, not the slide deck.
Any visuals that are cluttered, confusing, difficult to read or just unnecessary are not only wasted, they’re also actively detracting from you, your story, and the change you want to achieve. This means that…
- …every slide…
- …every element…
- …every word…
…must justify its existence or be removed!
One idea at a time
Your audience, like you and I, cannot read and listen at the same time. (‘Multi-tasking’ between verbal inputs, whether speech or written text, is an illusion; all that happens is we switch our attention repeatedly between two or more sources and our comprehension is reduced.)
If you put five bullet points on the screen at once, most of your audience will read ahead, which means they are not listening to you. You have become redundant (they can read quicker than you can speak), and the flow of information is now under their control, not yours.
Use simple* animations to reveal one point at a time. Better still, put separate ideas on separate slides.
An extra slide costs nothing
* in PowerPoint I use ‘appear’ for almost everything.
Tips for powerful visuals
- Show only one idea at a time
- Don’t use more words than absolutely necessary (e.g. this point would be “few words”)
- Use font sizes that can be read from the back of the room
- Stick to photographic images and simple diagrams. Clipart often looks tacky, unless you really know what you’re doing or your company has a brand library with professional, co-ordinated graphics.
- Be ruthless in the editing process! Refer back to your Big Idea and the change you want to create in your audience, and take out anything that doesn’t support those goals. Make every slide, element and word fight for its life!