I think this is just my week to sit through bad presentations. Earlier in the week I sat in on a presentation where the presenter committed what I would consider a presentation atrocity. We were in a large rectangular room, and the presenter was at one end, and the audience ran the length of the room. In total the room had about 30 people in it. Not an auditorium, but certainly a large boardroom. I was fairly close to the presenter and I cringed when I saw his second slide. On his second slide, he had to have had about a dozen bullet points in size 12 font. Maybe I am getting old, but I am not sure that I could have read that slide if I were standing a directly in front of the screen. When I saw the slide I was certainly concerned about the presenter’s ability to keep my interest, but his words absolutely horrified me:
“I’m sorry, I know you can’t read but I will tell you what it says.”
I am truly not sure what he said after that as I started pondering why someone would have a slide that they know the audience would not be able to see or gather any information from. What was the value of that slide? Why would you do that to your audience?
Please do not write complete sentences on your slides. Please do not bullet point your complete sentences. Please do not use size 12 font in a presentation ever. Size 24 is about as small as you can go, and that has to be in a small room. Bigger the room, the bigger the font generally as a rule. I am slowly evolving away from bullet points all together. I still use them occasionally, but not very frequently. I find that images have a much bigger impact and keep the audience engaged. If you use compelling images, and perhaps even a little bit of humor then the audience is literally on the edge of their seat waiting for the next slide.
To recap, here are the presentation lessons I have had reinforced upon me this week:
Try not to use bullet points and use images instead. On your next presentation replace one slide of bulleted information with an image that conveys your message. Trust me it works.
Limit each slide to one major point. Don’t try to cram 12 points on one slide.
Never go below size 24 font. If you can’t fit your message on the page then you have too much text. Cut it down.
Don’t read the text from your slide to your audience, ever. It gives the appearance that you don’t know the material.
Put yourself in the place of your audience. What is the major point that you want them to get from your presentation? Respect them, respect their time, and grab their attention.