Master Your Message Blog

Slide Overload: Just Plain Annoying!


Yikes! And way too common.

This is for the intelligent ones. No, really!

I’m deadly serious. This is the majority of presenters who get to stand in front of an audience because of what they know. They’re most often brilliant, but they’re so close to their passion that they forget that what’s so obvious to them isn’t to their audience.

As a professional speaker and trainer, one of the biggest lessons for me has been to learn to limit the amount of information I try to communicate in any one session. Too much information creates overload and once audiences get filled up, they shut down. At that point, you’ve lost them. Bye-bye.

This is where what you put on a slide is critical. Too much information can be deadly to your audience. If it doesn’t align with what you say, it can become far too complicated to follow. This is where I see the most challenges in the corporate environment.

Here are five points to remember that I constantly come back to as I prepare my presentations.

  • As an audience member, I can’t read your slides and listen to you at the same time. Quite frankly, you’re usually way more compelling, so if you overload the slide, guess what? You may as well not have prepared it. Here’s more from Richard Meyer.
  • Most audiences aren’t sitting at desks with a convenient place to take notes. So, you’d better make your main point super simple or chances are, it’ll fly right past me.
  • Slides are not substitutes for a written report or a hand-out. Stop trying to load everything you know onto a small screen. You’ll just annoy me. Just tell me your main point. If I need more info, I can find it in the hand-out. Can’t I? My video on handouts.
  • Audiences remember less than 50% of your content a half hour after your presentation, and 25% the next morning. If you don’t make it absolutely clear what’s important, you’ve wasted my time.
  • If you baffle me even the slightest bit, I’ll give up trying to figure it out. I’m gone. You’d do exactly the same thing.

Persuasive presentations should be centered on the concerns of your audience. You need to address concerns to convince someone to believe what you want them to believe (or do what you want them to do). If you don’t address concerns, you’ve missed a tremendous opportunity. All that other “stuff” is just plain distracting, and completely unnecessary.

The number one thing audiences hate most is when presenters read their slides. Audiences can read. But they shouldn’t have to. After all, you’re there to tell them what’s important. So … do it.

Your career depends on you connecting with your audience and changing minds. It’s your job to make sense of what you’ve learned and communicate the key points. Focus on what’s important and get all the other distracting, annoying, information off your slides.

By the way, if you’re interested in getting a short, to-the-point video from me every day for a month, with another 22 instantly available from my library anytime, just head over here to sign up.

Benefit from what I’ve learned the hard way.

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