Master Your Message Blog


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. Read More …

Point form seems to be highly misunderstood. I often see screens of text using full sentences.

If you’re going to use full sentences, you’re better off going home. That’s because you’ll read them and THAT is the thing audiences hate the most! The number one thing! I’ve done it  … so I know!

And why would you need to be there anyway? – your audience can just read your presentation.

Even more important – if they’re reading, they’re not listening to you!

So … you need to get your points down to their absolute essence. Use the fewest number of words you can use to support or reinforce your point.

Let’s get rid of as many articles, prepositions, pronouns … the little words …

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This weekend, I received a copy of another PowerPoint presentation that consists almost entirely of black text on a white background. The bottom line? It’s a no-no.

Think about looking at the text on a light bulb. When it’s on, it’s incredibly difficult to read! It’s almost the same as trying to read a projected screen of black text on white.

You’ve got black letters surrounded by all that intense white light blasting out at you. Because the projector is shooting intense light at the screen, which reflects it back into your eyes.

The black letters themselves are affected by that beam of bright projected, light. They appear to become thinner. That’s because the bright, white light “bleeds” onto them. They aren’t actually thinner. However, Read More …

Using audio clips in your presentation sounds so simple! But if there’s one thing that strikes fear into the hearts of convention technicians, that’s it!

Because it’s either too loud … or inaudible … or the presenter simply hasn’t told the technician that’s it there at all … and then wonders why it didn’t play.

So, tips. One … make sure your sound levels are consistent. That’ll require you to have some audio software to check each file and raise or lower the levels. Or some presentation software allows you to change levels within the program.

Two … make sure you test the sound on the day ahead of your talk. And make sure the sound files are in the right folder AND that you’re Read More …

Words actually don’t exist … to our brains, at any rate. We don’t see words as a series of letters. We see them as pictures.

I know … that changes things. When we read a word, we actually see it as a whole bunch of little tiny pictures. We look for features like horizontal or vertical lines, rounded corners, etc. and then we think back to our library of letter images and match it up to what we’ve stored from the past.

Over time, we get pretty darn good at this process and it takes us milliseconds to do all the calculations and read a sentence. So reading text is highly taxing on our brains. As a result, text presentations are simply not very effective Read More …

When I was younger (much younger), I had a friend who used to put mayonnaise on everything. Not just a little dab ‘l do ya, but a whole whack of the stuff. It was gross … and it obviously destroyed the underlying taste of the food.

So what does that have to do with your presentation?

Well, there are people today that animate just about everything in either Powerpoint or Keynote – or whatever flavour they use for visual support. They’ll fly text in; they’ll fly it out. It will zoom; it will blow up. Just about every effect available will be considered, if not used.

Then there are those that will have beautiful visuals (sometimes cut to a piece of pastoral music) and they’ll Read More …

In the corporate environment, many times the background is the thing that gets designed long before the presentation has even a defined goal. Artists can spend hours getting just the right look and feel to make sure the company gets promoted in the very best light.

Let me ask you this: Why? In fact, I want you to ask that very question next time you’re developing a presentation. Why spend all that time on the background, corporate identity and logo? That presentation isn’t even about those things.

What can happen is that the background and logo become so imposing that they actually detract from the point you’re trying to make. I’ve seen lots of examples, particularly in sales conventions. The background was so “busy” and took Read More …

Our eyes are attracted to shiny things. You know that when you take a walk in the park; the glint of the sun from a gum wrapper lying in the grass draws your attention. Or you look up at the sky on a clear, moonlit night – that big white orb is what catches your eye. Even the stars play second banana to the brilliance of the moon. Our eyes are attracted to light.

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I call this little tip about Fonts, “Fonts 101” because there are only a couple of basic things you need to know about fonts.

One is size. On the screen, make them at least 24 points or larger. That’s so that little Freddie in the back row can see them. 24 points. That’s a rule.

Now, the big conundrum – Serif or san serif? Serif are those knobs at the ends of letters in some fonts – like Times or Palatino. “San” means “without” (in French), or fonts without knobs – like Helvetica or Arial.

The rules always used to be, “san serif for headings and serif for paragraphs.” That’s because larger blocks of text are easier to read if they’re serif (with knobs).

The Read More …

Screen layout is really important to getting your message across.

Our eyes go to the lightest part of the frameTake this screen. Where does your eye go? Most people would say … to the brightest part of the background.

For me, the brightest part of the frame is the back of that lady’s head. In other words, the lightest object on the screen grabs your attention.

My frame of reference for light and its affect on us is television, film, and theatre. I’ve spent decades working across those areas. What I’ve learned is that our eyes are attracted by light, so put more light on the most important elements to make them brighter. Put less light on the unimportant information.

You need to think like that when you design your slides. It’s why light Read More …