Slides – Conceptualize and Simplify the Display of Information

At our studio we don’t write our stories, we draw them.    – Walt Disney

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. This is a continuation of a series outlining of each of the book’s sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic.

Section 5: Slides

  • Think like a designer – visuals should convey meaning
  • Create slides people can “get” in 3 seconds – do they pass the glance test
  • Chose the right type of slide – bullets aren’t the only tool
  • Storyboard one idea per slide – plan before you create
  • Avoid visual clichés – make your slides stand out
  • Arrange slide elements with care – make your visuals easier to process
  • Clarify the data – emphasize what’s important, remove the rest
  • Turn words into diagrams – use shapes to show relationships
  • Use the right number of slides – size up your situation before building your deck
  • Know when to animate – and when it’s overkill

Create Slides People Can “Get” in Three Seconds

Audiences can only process one stream of information at a time. They’ll either listen to you speak or read your slides – they won’t do both simultaneously.

Make sure they can quickly comprehend your visuals and then turn their attention back to what you’re saying.

Think of your slides as billboards on the highway: when people are driving by, they only briefly take their eyes off the main focus – the road – to process billboard information. Similarly, your audience should focus on what you’re saying, looking only briefly at your slides when you display them.

To create slides that pass the glance test:

  • Start with a clean surface – start with a blank slide
  • Limit your text – keep it short, easy to skim, and large enough to be visible from the back of the room
  • Coordinate visual elements – Use one typeface for the entire deck, use a consistent color palette, and use photos of a similar style
  • Arrange elements with care – align graphics and text blocks, and size all objects appropriately

Streamlined text and simple visual elements help your audience process the information much more quickly.

Next: Delivery

This is Part 6 of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, highly recommended for all leaders.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5




3 thoughts on “Slides – Conceptualize and Simplify the Display of Information

  1. Pingback: Delivery – Deliver Your Presentation Authentically « 27gen

  2. Pingback: Impact – Measure and Increase Your Presentation’s Impact on Your Audience « 27gen

  3. Pingback: Engage Your Audience, Sell Your Ideas, and Inspire People to Act | 27gen

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