If you’re not careful, your PowerPoint deck might end up doing more harm than good. Your slides should contribute to delivering your core message.
It should allow audience members to perfectly visualize your discussion. To get there, you need to cut out any distracting elements. The most effective way to deliver a presentation is to keep your deck simple and straight to the point.
Here’s why and how simple slides will work best for your presentation:
The Science of Simple PowerPoint Slides
According to research done by Dr. Christof Wecker, text-heavy slides negatively affect how much information is retained by an audience. In fact, he observed that it would be better to present with no visuals at all than to distract audiences with what he calls “regular slides.” Due to bad PowerPoint practices, regular slides contain too much text. Instead of being able to focus on the presenter’s explanation, the attention of the audience is now split between the keeping track of what they were hearing and what they were seeing.
The results indicate a “speech suppression effect” of regular slides at the expense of oral information (within and across conditions), which [can be explained] by dysfunctional allocation of attention….
The solution to this problem is through the use of concise slides. Dr. Wecker found that by simplifying content, presentations using PowerPoint slides offer the maximum retention of information.
It is concluded that theoretical approaches should account for the allocation of attention below the threshold of cognitive overload and its role for learning, and that a culture of presentations with concise slides should be established.
By trimming down your deck to the most basic points, the audience is able to avoid information overload. Simpler slides that focus more on illustrating key points allow viewers to process oral and visual information at the same time.
Presentation lesson: build a PowerPoint deck that’s straight to the point
To keep slides comprehensible and prevent them from taking any impact away from your presentations, try these useful tips:
- Think about all the points you want to make before launching PowerPoint to create your slides. Create an outline of all your ideas and work on a storyboard to give yourself an opportunity to edit everything that seems excessive and unnecessary.
- To minimize your use of words, try to illustrate your points using images instead.
- Explore the different functions that PowerPoint has to offer. SmartArt can be a great way to compress information into graphics that people can easily follow.
- Main points go on your slides. Explanatory details should be typed down in the Notes section, which you can refer to if you make use of the Presenter View.
Wecker, Christof. “Slide Presentations as Speech Suppressors: When and Why Learners Miss Oral Information.” Science Direct. Accessed September 17, 2014.
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