Your slide deck. Presentation media. Audio/visual aids. PowerPoint. Keynote. Google Slides. Graphics. Visuals. Whatever it is that you call it, every presentation is better with a slide deck that has been thoughtfully and skillfully designed.
The problem is, too many presentations are bogged down by boring slides that were simply an afterthought for the speaker. If you aren’t creating a compelling slide deck every time you present, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to reach your audience. Let’s walk through 4 reminders about how slide decks are intended to function and tap into the potential they have to elevate your presentation.
Your slide deck isn’t meant to help you remember what to say. It’s not your notes. A great slide deck is a companion to your content. It should help the audience enjoy the presentation more. Aaron Weyenberg is an expert at creating incredible slide decks. On the TED blog he says, “Too often, I see slide decks that feel more like presenter notes, but I think it’s far more effective when the slides are for the audience to give them a visual experience that adds to the words.”
If your presentation media is full of text, you aren’t using it correctly. In fact, presentation expert and author Nancy Duarte says that if a slide has more than 75 words, it has turned into a document. When you stand up to speak, you have the power of your words and your nonverbal communication (like tone of voice, volume, facial expression, and body language). Presentation media gives you the ability to introduce more forms of communication: pictures, movie clips, audio, graphics, charts, etc. Save the words for your message and the visuals for your presentation media.
I used to watch Project Runway when Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn were the hosts. Tim would always remind the designers to make their collections “cohesive.” In other words, there should be some repetitive elements in the individual pieces of clothing that tie them all together and show how they relate. The same is true for your slide deck. It shouldn’t look like a different person designed each slide. There should be repetitive elements of font, shape, color, or imagery. Check out our presentation design portfolio for a few ideas of how to make a slide deck consistent.
One of the biggest mistakes presenters make is to throw entirely too much into their slide decks. And I get it. All those bells and whistles and animations on PowerPoint and Keynote can be tempting. But when it comes to slide decks, less is more. Your job as a presenter is to use your visuals to enhance your spoken message without distracting from it. The more you throw into your slide deck, the harder it is to find that crucial balance.
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