How to keep your presentation simple

Blog post by David Bliss, Head of Learning at Edison Red…

Simplicity is the key to getting your point across during a presentation. Here’s how to strip your slides down to the basics…

Imagine watching a movie and a bullet point suddenly appears telling you the good guy is in fact the villain – you’d be annoyed, right? Yet thousands of slide presentations over-complicate the message this way, with too much information ruining the story.

The principles of good presentations are very much like those used in good movies. Both should take the audience on a journey of intrigue and discovery. As with each new scene in a film, a presentation must take people forward on a moment-by-moment basis – hopefully without them predicting or knowing what's coming next. Here’s 4 tips to help you do just that…

1. Liberate yourself from bullet points

Your visuals need to express their message in a glance – then you can be the expert your audience expects, rather than just ‘the guy who turns up to read the slides’.

If your slides are packed with bullet points and different messages, you will feel compelled to mention them all. You will be effectively bound in chains by your slides.

By cutting down the number of bullet points and the information they provide, the focus will also come back to you instead of the screen.

2. Don’t get hung up on the number of slides

In recent years the question ‘How many slides are you using?’ has led presenters all over the world to feel as they should be using as few as possible in their presentations. As a result the slides that then remain are often crammed with more and more needless information.

When choosing the number of slides more can actually be less

In fact the physical number of slides is often irrelevant. What is important is how much information is displayed and what the message is on each one. I have witnessed presentations with over 100 slides that felt like 20 – and presentations with 20 slides that felt like 1000…

3. Create a separate document for deeper information 

If you’re required to convey a lot of specific technical information to your audience, then give just the key facts in your presentation and send a document with additional information afterwards. This is far easier for people to digest than cramming absolutely everything into your slides.

document

Remember a presentation is just that: it’s a message delivered by a living breathing human being, not a PowerPoint file.

4. Learn from an expert

As this video shows, Apple are the kings of the simple presentation.

See below how CEO Tim Cook, talking about Apple's tablet market share, focuses on one single point – freeing him up to add any additional information as he goes that he feels will reinforce the core message. He’s not just making it simpler for the audience – he’s also making his own life a lot easier too.

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