5 Techniques on How to Kill Your Audience with Your Slideshow

By: D.S.M.

Seminar presentations have gotten me shot dead where I was seated!

Unless you got a presenter like Tim Cook or Steve Jobs, seminar presentations usually get its audience dying of boredom. I admit I am also not good in creating slideshows so I asked Google for some articles and suggestions. There are plenty of suggestions out there and some of it can be too long to read.

After browsing the web for powerful slideshow tips and techniques, I have landed on the pages of Carmine Gallo and Garr Reynolds who shared their insights on how to make effective and powerful slides. Gallo, a Forbes.com contributor, is a keynote speaker and communication coach who authored international bestsellers. He had shared tips on speaking in public like on TED talks and presenting the way the Apple best presenters do. On the other hand, Reynolds is an internationally acclaimed communication consultant and is the author of the award-winning Presentation Zen and Naked Presenter. Thanks to these two men, I was able to come up with my own list of things to avoid in making slideshows.

I was surprised to come up with only five items!

1. Bombard the audience with long texts in your slides.

Pouring in the slides with long texts will not make your audience read all of them! I myself do not read articles which are very long.

When you know what to say in your presentation, then it would be an ease for you to create your slides. Try summing up the gist of the whole talk into just one sentence. Remember, your slides are created as a visual aid or support. The whole presentation process would be coming from you.

2. Load Your "Gun" with Bullets.

If you are not satisfied with copying paragraphs from the web source to your slides, then paraphrase them in bullets, and put all of it in one slide. - NO!

A common rule on bullets before was “four bullet items per slide” or “6 bullet items, 6 words each line”. But we are doing away with bullets now.  Gallo, in his article, said that a slide filled with texts and bullets is the least effective way to deliver information. What he suggested is to animate each item separately so they drop into the slide one at a time. So, drop the bullets, and show one item at a time.

3. Use Clip Arts!

Use clip arts, the animated ones! These are natural killers in the seminars and other presentation scenes.

On the second thought, no! Clip arts can be silly and so unprofessional.

There are tons of quality images over the web -- just don't forget to credit the sources. One tip is to add either "hd" or "png" in your keywords to get high-quality pictures in results. Google also has a setting in which the results can be filtered according to their sizes. If you have time and resources, capture your own pictures using a good quality camera.

4. Inconsistent Slide Designs

Have you, by any chance, experienced wondering if the person talking in front is already on his second topic or not, just because his slide designs have a different look?

I had! I was stealing a nap and woke up with the same person talking in front and found out that his slide theme is now dark, which used to be a bright one.

Use just one theme -- that is, whatever look you have on your first slide, make sure the rest of the slides look the same way. If you prefer to put slide numbers, and placed it on the lower right side, make sure to put it in the same position in the rest of your slides.

Use the same slide background all throughout, or vary them at least in every topic section you have. The question as to what theme color to use, whether dark or bright is now answered --

Use dark background and light text colors if you are in a closed room with lights off.
Use bright background with dark text colors if you are in a well-lit surrounding.

5. Smaller Fancy Texts Will Make the Eyes Bleed

Use sans serif fonts. Sans serif fonts are those which do not have extra lines like Arial. They are easier to read even from the seat farthest from where the screen is at. Size should not be smaller than 24 points.

Keep the same font style and size for all your slide titles and the same style and size for all the body texts -- that is if ever you placed some paragraph there. Our suggestion is to put only a few texts as much as possible. For example, instead of flashing the line:

There are around 1, 700 people visiting the museum every day.
You may show only --

1, 700 people

or even make it shorter by removing the word "people". Placing some empty space in your slides makes it neat to look at and more relaxing.

Following these guidelines would help your audience focus on what you are saying, and not to what is on the screen. At the end of the day, it is you, and not your slide, who will make your presentation either a "SUCKS-cess" or "SUCCESS".