After five years of New Tech Northwest having monthly events with 4 or 5 presentations at each event, plus going to events for decades, I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of presentations. Most of them are fair with some being good and very few being excellent.
The only thing that will make you a great presenter or speaker is presenting and speaking as often as possible, but you can easily improve your slides.
While working with founders and executives over the years I realized that what comes up most often as an issue in most presentations I see is using too much text.
This is a major issue in presentations I see from presenters at New Tech and a multitude of pitch events. It’s a little excruciating seeing slides that are text, text and more text – a slidemageddon, if you will.
For full on slidepocalypse read the words on the text in your slides that everyone else is reading too. No, I’m kidding. NEVER under any circumstances do this.
When you’re preparing slides for any type of talk remember two things:
1) Make your slides mostly images with very few words.
2) You’re simply getting your audience interested in what you have to offer. It’s not necessary to unload a dumptruck full of information on people.
Think of it as asking someone for a first date. You share enough for them to decide that they want to learn more. Then you share a little more on the first date, and future dates if you earn them. He who unloads his life story when asking for a date will make potential dates run away like a roadrunner on fire.
In relation to slides overflowing with text, words should come out of your mouth and pictures on the slides should emphasize your point. If the image(s) make the audience smile or laugh, then you get bonus points.
Your goal is to make the audience feel something.
As Maya Angelou wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
A wall of text makes them feel overwhelmed, which probably isn’t your goal.
Remember that the strongest sense for humans is sight. Hearing is our second strongest sense, which means that whatever you say in a presentation will take a back seat to what you put on your slides.
Text should only convey major impactful communications, not the details behind them. The images on your slides should make your audience curious to listen to what you’re saying.
People won’t have time to read and process a slide full of text information. When people read text they hear their own voices reading it in their heads. This means they’re missing 80% of what you’re saying.
If you’re talking while text is on your slides they aren’t hearing anything you’re saying. If you’re reading what they’re reading it’s wasteful, annoying and shows a big lack of creativity or ability to get your point across. You may even spontaneously combust, so just don’t do it.
It’s much more impactful for you to verbally say the main points of that text while they look at a single image, or very few images with little to no text, to avoid confusing their attention.
*BONUS – Need a presentation deck hack? Use New Tech presenter alumnus Haiku Decks’ free software. They give you all the great images you could ever want to get your amazing point across and and verve to your brilliant verbal presentation. Just the way it should be.
I hope this helps you, or your friends and colleagues, in creating better and more impactful presentations. And now every time you see text-heavy presos you’ll remember this post and smile a little inside.