Master Your Message Blog

How to Use Screen Text Effectively

Here’s the rule for all of you that are hooked on text slides. It’s the rule of 66. It means six lines of text MAX, six words per line MAX. And a title, of course.

Slide with way too much text

Don’t do this!

Any more and you have a cluttered slide – like the one on the left. This is an actual slide from a recent convention. It wasn’t even up long enough to be able to read it all! Do you think your audience will remember all this plus the rest of your presentation. (I guess that doesn’t need an answer …)

And don’t tell me you can’t get a point down to under 6 words. I have yet to come across a situation in which that was true. Remember, YOU are the presenter, not the screen. It’s Speaker SUPPORT.

The Rule of 66: 6 Lines, 6 words … MAX!

I once did a full day seminar – I was scheduled in at the last minute. Now while I knew the material, I decided that to keep me on track, I’d use the training company’s slides.

I went through them quickly beforehand, and saw that they used full sentences, screen after screen. But I simply didn’t have the time to change them. I thought, “well, I’ll be OK – I’m a good presenter.”

Good presenter or not, as I put the slides up on the screen, I found myself reading each one of them out loud to the audience. I couldn’t help myself. There was just too much information up there and I couldn’t stay in sync with my points, unless I highlighted the text on the screen and the only way I could do that was to read each sentence.

And that’s the number one thing that audience’s hate: speakers who read the slides. Number One!

So, take out unnecessary words. Get it down to a short phrase. Remember, you’re the one who’ll explain it. The phrase is there to make your point clearer, easier to understand or remember … and to reinforce the point as you say it out loud.

If you want to be more persuasive in your presentations, don’t let detail get in the way.

If you have any particularly GREAT examples of too much text on a slide, please send me a link …

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