How to give a presentation: (10) avoidance of cramming

One of the services that FJWilson Talent Services offers is presentation training. Here our presentation coach, Anthony Haynes, gives the tenth in a series of concise, practical, tips.

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If ( I stress ‘if’) you use slides, there will obviously be a limit to how much text you can put on one slide.

I’ve read a number of texts about presentations. From my reading, the standard view that emerges is that the maximum limits is 8 lines, Or, if you’re presenting a table rather than straight text, 5 rows.

When I started running workshops on presentations, I thought that simply imparting this knowledge would improve people’s presentations.

I was mistaken, for two reasons:

  1. When people hear “maximum of 8 lines” they often translate that in their minds to “write eight lines of text”. In effect, they treat “maximum” as a synonym for “minimum”. I don’t understand the psychology behind this, but I do know that it happens. So I need to say, loud and clear: fewer than 8 lines would be preferable!
  2. Many presenters somehow don’t believe that the standard recommendation applies to them. I guess their reasoning, which is probably subconscious, runs something like this: “I have so much of interest to say that I am entitled to a dispensation”. They ignore the fact that the optics don’t change. People don’t remove their eye balls and replace them, for the duration of the presentation, with those of eagles.

There are, therefore, no dispensations.


Next in the series: background.

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