Non-wordy-self-explanatory slides

Everyone has bought into the idea that presentation slides full of text are poor communicators of ideas. The result is that many presentations are now so minimalist, that hardly anyone can understand them without verbal explanation. This creates a problem, as more and more, slides are used as commercials of ideas that are shared without the presenter being present (yesterday’s post).

One solutions is to add an audio stream to your slides, or going a step further, turning your slide deck in a small video. This requires some technical skills though. Also, busy important people often prefer to sticking to the communication medium that they have grown up with: slides. But, they like to do so at their own pace (meaning fast), impatiently looking for a visual that catches their attention. Boring blah blah blah gets skipped.

So what to do in situations where you do not have time / resources / patience to separate slide decks for a live presentation and a cold email attachment? Some ideas.

A very clear headline. Write your message out in a human sentence, you can even change your presentation template to allow 2 lines of text at the top of your page.

Pick useful images. A big squished orange to support that your are crushing the competition does not add much. A photograph of bored people waiting and lining up to buy paper lottery tickets to argue that there is a market for mobile lottery makes the point perfectly.

Swap verbs for visual concepts. A tension can be 2 boxes of text with a rope in the middle that is about to snap. An implication can be arrows with 2 words in each pointing to another box with 2 words. Best of both worlds can be a Venn diagram. Contrasts can be 2 boxes with opposing colors.

Minimalist data charts for trends. If you want to make the point that you are the biggest, show a ranking of market shares, do not just write the words #1 with a picture of a sprinter winning the race. Only show market shares, not profit, not growth, not customers, just one simple metric that makes the point.

Full data tables for reading. A P&L contains a lot of stuff. After you have summarized the key trends (1-2 statistics in a minimalist data chart), put in the whole data table (nicely formated). If the reader is interested she will pause, if not, she will skip.

Useful clutter. When things are complex, or the competitive field is crowded, show it. A pages full of logos, or a detailed systems diagram will look very busy and complex, impossible to understand. Well hey, that is the exact point you want to make.

Do not [click] break a [click] human sentence [click] in too many [click] pieces. The stunning photographs are great but by the time the Niagara Falls come up, the viewer has forgotten what the sentence was all about.

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