How to give a presentation: (12) against headings

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

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You’re preparing your presentation. You’ve decided, on this occasion, to use slides. You think about what your slides are going to be about. Supposing, for example, your presenting on some project you’ve just completed. Maybe you want to discuss the outcomes of the project. So you create a new slide and write the heading ‘Outcomes’. Maybe you want to reflect on the project, so you create a slide bearing the heading ‘Lessons learnt’.

Stop right there!

What are you doing? Why are you giving the slides headings?

Are you saying that, if it weren’t for the heading ‘Outcomes’, your audience wouldn’t realise it was outcomes you were discussing? Would you not use the word in your speech? Would it not be obviously from the content that outcomes is the subject?

If the answer to those question is ‘No’ (I won’t use the words and/or the subject won’t be obvious’), I say to you, without hesitation or qualification, you have a lousy speech.

The solution to having a lousy speech doesn’t lie in writing headings: it lies in writing a better speech.

If you give your slides headings, the disadvantages will be:

  1. you’re doing what most people do: that is, you’re doing things no better than the average. (The phrase ‘bog standard’ and the word ‘mediocre’ comes to mind.)
  2. you’re cluttering your slides with redundant information;
  3. you’re making it easy for the audience to decide to stop listening to you.

Next in the series: the three functions of slides


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