Secrets of Public Speaking :: No. 5

Monday, February 02, 2015

When it comes to the slides you're using in your presentation, less is more. A good rule of thumb is six to ten words on a slide. MAX.

No one is reading your entire paragraph and if they are they’re no longer listening to you. If you need to read an exact quote, include it in the personal notes you have on stage with you. If you speak without notes, memorize it.

If you want people to interact with your talk via social media, your text should be twitter-length soundbites or the info you most want to spread.

Include a hashtag or twitter handle on your slide if you want it credited correctly (this still isn’t a guarantee, by the way).

Try to avoid stock photos. If you don’t have your own photos to use, use photos of work by people in the room that illustrate or reinforces the point you’re trying to make.

Unless specifically requested by the event producers, avoid using high-res images in your slides. These can end up causing complications for the AV team and quality typically isn't lost in projection by using a lower resolution.

Illustration of Ellen Black by Kristy Rice for my presentation at Engage!14. Calligraphy by Deborah Nadel.
Another thing I like to do is have my slides professionally designed or illustrated. This — more than anything else you do — shows you’re prepared. Everyone knows you didn’t whip those together the day before. People who are paying for a conference or workshop like to know that you respect their investment by putting time and thought into your topic and not procrastinating.

Presentation slides should reinforce what you are saying — they shouldn't do the heavy lifting for you.

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