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Tips and Tricks about Presentations


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This post was written by
Scott Schwertly

Scott is the Founder and CEO of Ethos3.

At Ethos3, we like to think of our presentation content like a poem, where each slide represents a line, and each main takeaway is its own stanza. This helps keep content concise while also achieving an overall creative goal. But how can you switch your brain to think of your presentation as poetry? We’ve come up with a method called “The 5-7-5.”

So, What Is It?

The 5-7-5 is a three-line stanza with five syllables in the first, seven in the second, and five in the third. You may also recognize this as a haiku, although for the purpose of a presentation you will be using multiple stanzas, so it’s not technically a haiku. However, let’s take a look a popular example of a haiku to break down the style:

Whitecaps on the bay: (The first line has five syllables, count on your hand)

A broken signboard banging (Seven syllables in the second line)

In the April wind. (Back to five again in the third line)

-Richard Wright

For your presentation, the goal of the 5-7-5 is to keep you mindful about using too much text with extraneous narrative and filler. Let’s say you are introducing your company. I’ll use Ethos3 as an example. During your introduction, suppose you want to say something along the lines of: “Ethos3 is a presentation design company based in Nashville. How can we help design a great presentation for you?” The 5-7-5 might look a little something like this:

Ethos3 Nashville

We make great presentations

How can we help you?

If read in a chunk, it seems a little choppy. But broken into separately designed slides, it’s minimal and filler-free. We can try the exercise again to detail the services Ethos3 provides, which include content, delivery training, and design:

We’ll craft your content

Teach you how to deliver

And design your slides

It’s a triumph of minimalism! You can continue to strengthen your deck using sets of three, diligently keeping an eye on syllables. The goal is not for everyone to realize you’re using the 5-7-5, but rather, for you to exert mastery over your content by keeping slides as to-the-point as possible.

As you build your presentation, continue to use chunks of three until you feel as if the main points have been reached. Consider making an 18-slide presentation with 6 individual stanzas, or a 30-slide deck with 10 stanzas. Or simply begin by revising your opening three slides; the exercise will be good for you, trust us.

Question: How can you use the 5-7-5 in your next presentation?

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