Do you know what a ‘slideument’ is? It’s when you merge a document with a slide. Think of a PowerPoint slide with lots of words. Lots of visuals. Lots of information.
They are usually created in a bid to “save time”.
Three birds, one stone – right?
- You can read off it for notes.
- Your audience can view it whilst you talk.
- You can leave it behind for future reference.
Perfect. Right? Hmmm. One problem – Slideuments don’t actually work.
“Humans are completely incapable of reading and comprehending text on a screen and listening to a speaker at the same time. Therefore, lots of text (almost any text!), and long, complete sentences are bad, Bad, BAD.”
Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen
Last week, I was reminded of this during a virtual workshop. During the online coaching session, one of the team presented with slides. The slides were nicely designed. Beautifully branded. But still – slideuments.
He then had another go at presenting, but this time with no slides. When getting feedback from the group, one of his colleagues said:
“I just realised that when you presented without the slides, I listened to you. The first time you spoke I was reading. But not listening”.
Which is a problem, right, as with more of our presentations being online, slideuments are everywhere.
So, what do we do instead?
Step 1: Figure out what you NEED to say.
Step 2: Ask yourself this question: “Does my audience need any visuals to help understand, or remember, my point”?
Step 3: If no, ditch the visuals. (Shock. Horror)!
Step 4: If yes – create a useful visual aid.
The definition of a Visual Aid is “Something that is visual and that is helpful”.
A good rule of thumb is that your audience should understand the point you are making in less than 3 seconds (like looking at an advertising billboard), i.e., not have to concentrate on reading.
Step 5: Create your handouts, pre-reads, deliverables, or whatever information you want your client to read, separately. Provide this information before or after, rather than during, your presentation. And if you do provide it during your presentation, give your audience time to read it.
Stop presenting. Start talking.