To slide or not to slide?

public speaking Jan 03, 2023

One of the speaker behaviors that elicits the most negative feedback from audience members is reading directly from slides.

So why do presenters continue to do it?

I think it’s a combination of fear/nervousness and the assumption (particularly in certain industries) that slides are necessary to get one’s points across. Here are some tips to help you avoid this presenting pitfall and level up your speaking!

🎤 First, think about whether slides are necessary. Not all presentations need them! Think about how many of the best TED Talks are just one person standing on a stage and telling their story. Only use slides if they serve a purpose – like conveying things that are difficult to explain without pictures.

🎤 Next, if you decide you must use slides, remember that less is more – both when it comes to number of slides, AND how much material is on each. Your audience can read, so when you put words on a slide, they are almost certainly going to start reading and stop listening! The same goes for cluttered images – the audience will use their mental energy to sort through them rather than engaging with you. As presentation expert Nancy Duarte says, “any slide with more than 10 words is a document.” If you need a longer explanation of something, consider follow-up emails and/or handouts rather than slides.

🎤 Finally, rehearse your presentation to ensure that you don’t need to lean on the words on the screen – ideally, you’ll share stories and anecdotes that bring the underlying facts and figures to life!

Do you face other challenges when you present with slides? If you’d like to grow and enhance your speaking skills (or your overall leadership, career development, and communication skills), I’d love to work with you – so book a FREE coaching consultation today!

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