08 Feb 2011by Georgie Cousens

Rescue your audience from that landslide of text!

The secret to an effective presentation is to make it as visual as possible. You want to grab your audience by the eyeballs, not by the coat tails as they sneak out the back.

One of the biggest mistakes a presenter makes is squeezing as much text and information as possible on every slide. You want your audience to listen as you give your talk, not squint at the size 6 font and 117 bullet points on each slide of their printed and bound hand-outs. They’ll be so busy straining their eyes that your voice will fade to ‘blah-blah-blah’ in the background as they read through your tome.

First things first, select-and-cut all that text on your slide, and paste it into the Notes section. You should be left with a beautifully barren white slide staring up at you.

Now, read through the Notes, and zoom in on the main idea you’re trying to convey. Bingo! Now find an image that best conveys that idea. Limit yourself to a single graphic per slide, two at the most. The same goes for pie charts and bar graphs: any type of visual. A trick that works great with a strong graphic, is to pair it with an inspirational or informative quote or statistic – like a “Did you know?” or quote from a famous personality.

Big, bold and impactful – those are the three words that should govern your slide design. Ideally you’d not be using any text on the slide, but if you absolutely must, use only one or two sentences. Don’t worry about that text left in your Notes box – what you’re looking at there is your speech. Remember, your slides should only guide your audience while you talk and are providing visual accompaniment to what you’re saying.

And bullet points? Ditch them at every opportunity!

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