Over the last month, we have spent nearly every day in workshops with some of our top clients. And in every single one, the concept of terrible PowerPoint slides came up. Everyone wants to know how to make their slides simpler. Everyone wants to have a “Steve Jobs” level of simplicity with their slides. But that kind of high-level simple storytelling doesn’t really help technical professionals slugging it out in the business trenches every day. Their use of PowerPoint can never be as simple as Mr. Jobs because at some point, someone has to follow the Mr. Jobs presentation and actually, you know, get into some detail.
So if you’re one of those technical professionals whose job is to share, explain, and build consensus around detail, how do you make things simpler?
It is a really long conversation, one that we spend hours on in our workshops. But here is one technique you can try today. Take a recent deck you worked on, and pick a busy text slide, one that probably has a really small font size. And try this: Try and cut the word count on the slide down by 50%, without changing the meaning. Try it. It’s not hard. We do it in our workshops all the time, with great success. Try and find ways to make the same point with 50% fewer words.
And then once you achieve that, commit to a significantly larger font size for the slide. Try to get it up to something like 20 point. Even bigger is better.
Most of us fall into the trap of thinking “these slides are going to be busy, I have no choice, so I’m not going to fight it anymore.” And then we just give in, fail to apply any word economy discipline, and suddenly our slides look like a page out of Moby Dick.
There are lots of other things we can discuss, like starting off with a clear goal and then a clear message for each slide. But to prove the point, try the word economy technique. Redraft your slide deck making a conscious effort to be more efficient with your words.
Trust me… it works.
Have a great day.
At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com
10/20/30 rule—have never forgotten it since grad school, and preach it to whomever I can.