For years, the most common mistake in presentations has been the same thing: having too much content on slides. Everyone knows that we shouldn't create presentations like that, and yet we still make this mistake most often. Why? Perhaps because we consider it a trivial mistake. Not at all. It's the worst thing we can do for our presentation. Why?
Every few days, I lead PowerPoint training sessions. And almost every time I see the participants' presentations, I notice that their slides are overloaded with content. The training participants explain, "Yes, I know this slide has too much text. But only a few slides in this presentation are like that."
An innocent sin?
In the world of presentations, it is the heaviest sin.
When you create slides overloaded with content, you complicate matters for both the audience and yourself.
Trouble for the audience The audience will listen to what you say, but seeing a lot of text on the slide will either:
A) Discourage them from interacting with the presentation at all.
B) They will read everything that is written there.
Both options generate problems. If they disconnect from the interaction and start thinking about blue almonds, the presentation is already over. You might as well shut down your computer and go home. On the other hand, if the audience reads word for word what is written on the slides, there will be a desynchronization between what you say and what the audience is reading. And they certainly read faster than you speak. At some point, they will be a few steps ahead of you and have difficulty focusing on what you are saying.
And the key is the audience's attention - their focus on one important thing: you and your words.
Trouble for the presenter Too much content on slides is also a problem for the presenter, i.e., you. You see many sentences on the slide and don't remember exactly what you wrote there. What do you do? By necessity, you will read. Not speaking from yourself, not making eye contact with the audience, not focusing on the relationship with them, but reading. Reading and immersing yourself in your own world of presentation. In extreme cases, presenters can turn their backs to the audience and, looking at the screen, read sentence by sentence from the slides. Sometimes they hide behind the monitor screen from which they read, so they are not visible at all. For obvious reasons, this is never good.
So, can there be anything worse in a presentation?
So remember, if you start working on a presentation, avoid long content, long sentences, and long paragraphs. Short sentences, short phrases, and equivalents will definitely work better.
When creating a presentation, focus on one idea per slide, use visuals, and limit the amount of text. This way, you will make it easier for the audience to understand and follow your message. Use slides as a visual aid to support your speech, not to replace it. Your words and your presence on stage are the most crucial elements of any presentation. Keep that in mind, and you'll be on your way to delivering successful presentations that leave a lasting impression.