3 + 3 ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for Slideware Best Practices (plus a bonus tip)
Text-heavy slides + presenter’s commentary = missed opportunity. That’s because audiences experience “channel interference” when they’re confronted with text on a screen in tandem with spoken commentary. It’s challenging to both read and listen at the same time. (Like, for example, Saturday morning when you’re immersed in the weekend paper and significant other wants to chat.)
Even worse is reading the text directly from your slides, because people can read silently faster than you can read out loud (plus that announces to the audience that you are actually redundant, assuming that they can read your slides for themselves). On the other hand, seeing an image plus listening to a person speak does not create this channel interference, and engages us both visually and aurally.
In a nutshell, here are my 3 + 3 key ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for Slideware Best Practices:
DO break up complex diagrams and visual illustrations into “chunks” offered over a series of slides, and/or provide a handout of the entire image.
DO use an image scaled to cover the whole slide, perhaps accompanied by minimal text (or just a single word or phrase).
DO proofread your slides. Then go back and proofread them again.
DON’T put the content of your talk on your slides. That’s what handouts are for.
DON’T use PowerPoint templates and clip art. These look retro – and not in a good way.
DON’T use text animations. Unless you are a creative director for an ad agency with a big budget, and even then think twice.
Bonus tip: If you ever hear yourself apologizing for any [easily preventable] part of your presentation (for example, slides unreadable from the back of the room, random typos, content on a slide that you don’t really understand), chalk it up to presentation karma…and gather these nuggets of feedback for your cache of hard-earned wisdom.