Master Your Message Blog

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The primary objective of presentations is NOT to be pretty. The primary objective is to persuade or impart information.

Pretty but busy slideI mean, they CAN be pretty, but if pretty (or busy) gets in the way of the message, it’s a problem!

Sometimes what you think is a brilliant idea, just doesn’t make it in the implementation stage. Remember, screen real estate is dear. There’s never enough of it.

Well, in fact, the information you put on the screen should not need any more space than what’s available. And that brings us to the first of two major rules:

  1. Less is More.  Each screen should support one point and only one point. Don’t try and put everything you can think of up there. Who’s going to remember Read More …

Let’s look at “builds.” Builds are really powerful. They make information stick. Like goo.

I define builds as short phrases or words that are added to a screen on a particular cue. You can build text on the screen line by line or word by word.

The power of builds is that, if done properly, they visually reinforce key phrases you say that are really important. They can help make a specific idea memorable; set it apart from other screen text.

The important thing is the interaction between your voice and what appears on the screen.

From a learning perspective, two senses are way more powerful than one. So, saying a word and showing that word at the same time means your audience will remember it over Read More …

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 …

Read More …

The Ultimate Screen – what a title! Makes you think I’m going to show you the most wonderful, most powerful screen of all! Well, I am!

However, you have to buy into a simple, radical concept … pictures are more powerful than words.

We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words. In fact, our brains only see pictures. We see words as lots of little “letter-pictures.”

Get this book: Brain Rules by John Medina. It’s full of lots of facts as to how we learn, particularly in presentations.

And get this … if we say something important in a presentation, 72 hours later, people will remember 10%. That number goes up to 65% if we add a picture.

Better still … Read More …

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 …

There’s nothing that makes me crazier than to see really bad grammar in two foot high letters on the screen.

Here’s an example: 5 DVD’s.
I see this all the time. But it’s incorrect. The apostrophe means it’s possessive … NOT plural.

If it’s plural … it should look like this: “5 CDs.” 5 DVDs – the same thing. Now, if I said “I put the DVD’s cases in the trunk,” it would be correct with an apostrophe “s” … You see, the cases belong to the DVDs – and so it’s possessive. Although it’s kind of a weird sentence.

So … apostrophes do not generally denote plurals. But there are exceptions … After all, it IS English.

Single letters and numbers require an apostrophe “s” 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 …

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 …