I’ve been to countless presentations where the presenter crammed every slide with as much text and bullet points as they could fit, and then proceeded to read the content to the audience. I’ve also been to a few presentations where each slide had a picture with minimal text and the all of the content was delivered verbally from the presenter. Needless to say it was the latter from which I took away and retained valuable information from.
When it comes to designing presentations, we seem to take inspiration from our school days, where instructors would cram information onto each slide. In an educational setting that may work, but for most business meetings and even corporate training courses, people don’t have the time and energy to read and interpret an onscreen book which is also being read to them. Generally speaking it’s best to provide your audience with the “nuggets” of information they need, and then point them to where they can get more detail on their own time, or have them try a hands on exercise.
I take great influence from Apple’s CEO – Steve Jobs, when designing presentations for clients. If you watch his presentations on YouTube, you’ll notice he incorporates just enough visual information onto his slides to back up his message, and then verbally delivers the goods. He recognizes that people have short attention spans (usually about 10 minutes), and breaks up his presentations with exciting live demos and guest appearances. In other words he lets the visuals, demos and to some degree – the guest speakers do a lot of the talking. And he supplements this with an entertaining delivery style.
I recommend reading the book: “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience”, to learn more about how he presents. While his presentations (and the book) are geared towards product unveilings and marketing presentations, the book is still chalk full of great tips on putting together awesome presentations. I also recommend joining a Toastmasters club so you can practice your public speaking skills. Like exercising, public speaking is something you have to keep doing on a regular basis to really get good at it. For some “hands on” help with your presentations, I can also assist you in developing your materials.