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Why you shouldn’t use busy slides

Still, the overwhelming majority of slides uses massive amounts of text in bullet point structure with the occasional clip art and overly detailed chart filled in.

While it might be easy for the presenter to create, it’s often the worst slide to support the presentation. It’s distracting and detracting. It ruins the impact of your presentation.

There’s a great little experiment to prove that: When you watch the news, have a random magazine lying in front of you and choose a random sentence of 10-15 words. It’ll take you 3-5 seconds to read. I bet that you will have lost the thread of thoughts in the news broadcast. Now, consider that the typical PowerPoint slide easily takes 30-60 seconds to read. During that time, the audience won’t follow the speaker because they are busy reading. Of course, they’ll try, anyway, which leads them to constantly switch context from reading to listening to reading to listening… And this is one of the reasons why enduring typical PowerPoint presentations does actually feel physically exhausting.

Finally, everyone in the audience can read faster than you can talk. They don’t need you to read the slide for them. If everything was on the slide it would be so much cheaper to just send a memo. The reason we all gather in a room (no matter if it’s online or offline) is because you are adding something that can’t be put on a slide. The reason the presentation takes place is you. If it weren’t for you we would all be better off doing other things. So embrace that and make it about you. Show your enthusiasm. Provide your perspective apart from the raw facts. Make it a story that captivates us rather than a bullet list of facts. Let us in to your unique take on the subject.

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Picture of Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz