My New Rule About Presentation Slides

I’ve written many times about how to make an effective PowerPoint presentation – and even written about when not to use the presentation software. Now I want to get even more serious for those who use apps like PowerPoint and Keynote too often and without thinking. Here’s the new rule:

Don’t use a slide unless the audience wouldn’t understand your point without it. In other words, if you can make the point clearly and effectively without a photo or text, then great – skip the slide. But if the visual is the only way they’ll understand your point, then use the slide.

I don’t care how beautiful the photo or how great the quote, or how life-changing the spreadsheet may be, if it’s not crucial to helping the audience understand your point, it’s just a distraction. I want the audience focused on you, not the screen. And when we use slides that aren’t critical to making our point, they’re distracting the audience from you, and that’s always wrong.

Be more critical about selecting slides, and if possible, don’t use them at all.

By the way – the same holds true with pitch decks. If you’re putting together a pitch deck for investors, donors, or anyone else, be more critical about the slides you include. Because just like a presentation, you’re distracting them from what really matters.

Trust me, it’s not helping your presentation.

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