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It seemed like the best idea ever: liven up business presentations with a slide show. Pictures! Graphs! A weird 80s Dr Who-style spiral dissolve vortex! Surely visual aids would turn boring meetings into a mashup of Mad Men and a game of laser tag. Pow! Zap! Nope! The problem with slides is, basically, slides. Slides, and the people who use them. Let’s break down some common mistakes that stop your visual aids from being the effective business tool they long to be.
The human brain can’t multitask. And vision trumps all the other senses. So, if you put a whole lot of writing up on the screen and then start talking, you’ve immediately lost the audience. They’ve tuned you out to read the screen, just like when you’re reading a particularly juicy comment thread on your phone and your partner is talking to you about…something. Blah blah something something divorce something…what was it?
How much work is that slide doing? Is every single aspect of the issue reflected on that graph? Is there (shudder) more than one graph on that slide? Your slide is heading for burnout and so is your audience.
Many people put their entire presentation script up on the screen, then turn their backs to the room and read it out, as though the audience wanted to hear a low-energy audiobook of it. It’s like a bedtime story for adults, and it puts them to sleep. Use headlines on your slides, know your material and you’ll have a Wicked-As Presentation.
But wait! There’s Less!
Here’s are a couple of quick tips to streamline your slides and make your visual aids more effective.
Your slides don’t need to be a record of everything you’re saying. They’re a visual medium, so use the built-in advantages. Pictures can evoke an emotional response and they’re memorable, so use images that support how you want your audience to feel about your topic, and that will help them remember your message. Did you want them to feel bored and overwhelmed? No? Then stop doing that.
‘Now you won’t be able to see this, but…’ is code for ‘my slide sucks’. If you can’t see it, it’s not a visual aid. If you have a data-heavy presentation, remember your job is to communicate the meaning of the data. What story is the data telling? Perhaps offer a simplified graph or enlarge the relevant part, so the point you’re making is clear. You can hand out the citations and full data set later. Which brings us to the next point…
Your handouts are not your slide show. If there’s more than 50 words on a slide, that’s a teleprompter. More than 70, that’s a document. No one is going to sit there and read your first quarter report version of War and Peace at 10am on a rainy Thursday. Feel free to use Powerpoint to write and structure your document, but the version you present you should be the headlines, not the thinkpiece.
Don’t Let It Slide
At The Pickering Group we’re slide experts. We can help streamline your visual aids into the punchy, impactful slides of your dreams. Well, at least they won’t sent people to dreamland. Our business presentation skills training integrates visual aspects with the spoken word, so you can master all the facets of business communications. Visual aids are an amazing tool for influence and persuasion, if used consciously. Zap! Pow! Ask us how! Get in touch today, or check out the training we offer both in-person and virtually. Or follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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