Have you ever been to a business presentation when the presenter, getting stuck on a slide, starts talking and talking, with no end in sight, as you ask yourself :“What is the point here?”
Well, there’s an easy way to avoid this in your next presentation: as you design the presentation, pre-define the MAIN MESSAGE of each slide. Do this for every single slide you’re planning to show.
1. What one sentence best summarizes what I have to say while this slide is up on the screen?
2. What if I haven’t enough time and have to stop showing this slide after 15 seconds?
3. What you come up with in answer to these questions is the main message.
So now you may ask, “But what if I have more than one main message for a particular slide?” Well, in most cases this means you need to use two slides. A slide ideally conveys only one main message (You can read more on this topic here).
By allocating one main message per slide, you benefit the audience, the presenter and the designer of the presentation.
The audience will realize when you’ve finished with one idea and are starting on a new one. Keeping one idea per slide helps the audience to mentally organize the ideas.
- And since the presenter knows when an idea has been fully conveyed, the talking on that point can stop! To deliver the same message in three different ways, for example, underestimates the intelligence of the audience.
- When the designer of the presentation knows what the main idea is, he can reinforce it by calling attention to a number, a word or an image. How often does the main message of one of your slides reside in a small-font figure or in no visual element at all?
- Finally, defining the main message of a slide allows you to run the ultimate test for the script of your presentation: as you read one message after the other, you can check to see whether those slides in totality make up a STORY. Or does the flow have vacuums… (See here how to avoid vacuums in a corporate presentation.)
If you find that your presentation does in fact tell a story, you have a bonus: you can tell that story through the main messages, in a couple of minutes, or you can elaborate on individual points and expand the same presentation into an hour. That flexibility is a powerful ally when you’re preparing a presentation and you know the time parameters within which you have to deliver.