I learn a lot from my clients. Recently, I witnessed a couple of clients who had dramatically improved their presentation effectiveness. Their delivery was good, their engagement level was good and the content was clear. But do you know what the real secret sauce was? Their slides really worked for them, not against them. They had simple, easy-to-understand slides that supported and reinforced their strong verbal content.
Those text-filled, complex and cluttered slides may work well in a presentation document that is sent to people via email and then read like a document. But when busy slides are put up on a screen or discussed at a meeting, the audience tunes out the presenter. This is frustrating to you, the presenter, because the presentation should be all about you, your golden verbal content, and your valuable context. The focus should be on you, not the slide.
I have spoken to many presenters about the multitasking problem introduced by Dr. Edward Hallowell. When we relate his findings to presentations, we see that audiences try to focus on the slides and the presenter’s verbal at the same time, but they are rarely successful.
The fact is, bad slides often get in the way of what could have been a great presentation.
I recently tweeted,“Speakers are often at their best during the Q&A because they’re not handcuffed to a slide. Think about that.”
The next time you’re creating a deck ask yourself, “Is this slide going to help me get my point across or hurt me by distracting my audience?”
Anil Dilawri is the Managing Director of Save it like Sully, an executive presentation training and coaching company. His clients are in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary. He tweets @SaveitlikeSully.
Image: Business School Presenting