Slip Slidin’ Away

I once spent a few months working at a large company. A short time after I started, they decided to hold a series of 4, one hour presentations, to motivate their employees. For four days, I sat and watched Slide shows. And I got motivated. I stopped working there a week later.

Ironically, the reason they put these presentations together was to try and curtail their high employee turnover rate. Count me as one guy that they didn’t reach successfully. I’m not saying that I left because of Power Point presentations. I’m just saying the slide shows didn’t keep me from leaving, which was their intended purpose.

For me, one of the fastest ways for your slide show to get me to slide out of the room, is to read, verbatim, every word on them to me. I read to my kids because they can’t, I don’t need you to read to me.

Can you imagine how a client would feel if you handed them a full color brochure to whatever your product is, and then proceeded to read to them, word for word, the entire thing? Do you think they would feel relieved that someone else was doing the heavy lifting of reading for them, or would they feel a bit insulted?

Speaking as someone who has sat through too many Power Points that have been presented this way, it is almost always the latter. If I’m not insulted, then  I’m at least a little bit miffed.

Are the slides or material so dull that you are worried that I’ll drift away from your presentation? And is reading that same boring material out loud the best way to pull me back into paying attention?

Here’s a way I like to look at it. Treat the words on the slides as if they are the subtitles to a foreign film. Of course they are important, but they are only part of the story. They drive the story, but there should be more behind them. They should make me curious to listen to more.It doesn’t mean you have to have pictures on the slides, but it does mean that your slides should paint one.

After all, isn’t a picture worth a thousand words?

What would you rather look at, a beautiful picture, or a thousand words on a page?