Contrary to the presenter’s rule of keeping your slides simple, there are special exceptions when you can use long text in your visuals, even for a professional PowerPoint design.
There’s one standard to apply when doing this, a specialty practiced by the makers of the Volkswagen print ads: make it interesting.
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Justify the Long Text with an Idea
In his book, Cutting Edge Advertising, Jim Aitchison explains how your text should have an interesting idea to justify its length. This is often the case when you have a good story to tell. This is not to say that it’s justifiable to copy and paste your entire story into a single slide. After all, PowerPoint should be used as a visual aid, not a script.
A good way to balance this is to make the text work well with your slide designs, similar to how the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals made their print ads. These featured a cat and a dog holding a list of things they promise their new owners if they were to be adopted.
Critics often tell you to avoid using lists and bullet points, which is usually a good idea to follow. But while the list in the example is lengthy, the idea is based on the insight of annoyances pet owners have to deal with. This insight is relatable enough to its target readers, and the idea is strong enough to present a solution to the pet owner’s problems.
If you have a sales presentation idea that your clients can relate to, you already have an advantage over the competition, if only because you give the impression that you understand their problems and want to help solve them.
Write the Text Well
There’s a difference between making a text-heavy slide and a well-written story. While disguising a print ad as a news article may work for broadsheets and possibly for presentation handouts, the same can’t be said with PowerPoint slides.
If you have an interesting story to tell and you want your audience to remember the keywords, balance them with a visual and an interesting headline, similar to how Timberland and Volkswagen did their new ads. For slides, focus on your narration and fade in the text with simple animations as you speak. You can also alter the fonts to highlight what you want your audiences to remember.
While there are exceptions that call for using long text, remember that even this needs to be presentable for a professional presentation. To help you get the most of this, getting the help of a professional PowerPoint design specialist can help you gain the advantage you need.
Aitchison, J. Cutting Edge Advertising: How to Create the World’s Best Print for Brands in the 21st Century. Singapore; New York: Prentice Hall, 2004.
“Reduce and Simplify Like a PowerPoint Professional.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed August 10, 2015.
“Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals(SPCA): “ROTTWEILER” Print Ad by Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore.” Advertising Archive. Accessed August 10, 2015.
Sullivan, L. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This! A Guide to Creating Great Ads. Hoboken, NJ – J. Wiley & Sons, 2008.