Rule 101: Reduce text in your presentation to have more impact on your audience, present slides which are both simple to understand and memorable.
The simpler you can make your slides the more your audience will grasp the meaning and retain key information. We cannot listen and read simultaneously, and our default is to read (it’s faster). So, when there is a lot of text on your slides, your audience will be too busy reading it to listen to you and your meaning will be lost.
Here are 5 ways to reduce text on slides
1. Use the Notes Pages.
In PowerPoint, below the slide view there is space for notes. You can use this section to help keep your slides succinct, by pulling out any additional text that a (non-live) audience needs to understand the content (and of course you can use these notes as a prompt whilst you are speaking).
If you would like to change the formatting of these notes, click View > Notes Master. This master can be redesigned to match your presentation and make it more visually appealing. One simple trick is to fill the speaker notes placeholder with a background colour taken from the slide palette and use consistent fonts.
If you format the Notes Pages well, they make brilliant hand outs.
2. Have only crucial text on the slides.
Crowded slides can confuse and overwhelm an audience. Unless your point is immediately clear, you’ll struggle to keep their attention. Cut out waffle words, reducing content to the essentials (review your content 2 or 3 times to reduce it). Aim to summarise without losing any of your meaning.
As Blaise Pascal once wrote: “If I had more time, this would be a shorter letter” (I paraphrase!). Invest time into making your text more concise.
Of course, it’s not just text on a slide that can be the culprit for cognitive overload. Question tables, charts, diagrams and the “added” detail you’ve included and sense check if it’s genuinely needed.
3. Use slide headings as a summary message.
Put your key message for each slide into the heading – in other words argue your point and make this argument obvious. Think about the one key point you want the audience to take from each slide. Make these headers short, impactful and pithy.
Don’t use headings as “topics” e.g. Our locations / Our team / Our services. Tell your audience what they need to know: e.g. We have a reliable national network / Our staff know their onions / Everything we do will make your life easier.
4. Avoid text in lists > use grids to make it appear like less text.
Dodge the bullet. Pull the text from each bullet out into a separate shape and use some cool colours and fonts, distributing the shapes evenly across the available space. You may still have the same amount of text, but it won’t look like it!
5. Communicate graphically by visualising data (instead of text).
If you are communicating a bunch of facts and figures, use this information to build some simple charts and graphics, then you can take out most of the text. Limited text combined with an appropriate image, icon or infographic instantly becomes more memorable. These visual aids to memory should be simple and direct and they should help to create a narrative which will build connections between information.
What have we learnt? Trimming out the unnecessary noise from your slides means that your audience will understand, digest, and remember more of what was said. Put simply, with less text-heavy slides, your presentations are more effective.
If we can help you to make this a reality on your slides, just get in touch. Put our years of expertise at your disposal, and have slides that not only look good, but that put the audience’s experience first.
Our guest author for this post, Anthony Booty of exhibiting specialists Guardian Display, explains the importance of graphics when it comes to knowing how to attract visitors to your stand at a trade show.
“Over the past ten years, the team at Guardian Display has installed a ton of graphics at trade shows and conferences. We have fixed them to stands large and small. To walls, to free standing signs and a host of custom made fixtures too. It’s fair to say that we feel confident to advise our clients on the best approach for using display graphics to best effect. Having said that, getting it right can be tricky especially when businesses feel tempted to save money on graphics and concentrate on other display aspects instead. However, the potential low impact impression you’ll create by using weak, poor-quality graphics is one you won’t want to risk at your next event.”
Seven tips on how to attract visitors to your stand at a trade show:
Size and placement are important
There’s no point commissioning a graphic designer to come up with something that boldly represents your brand in all its glory, only for nobody to be able to see it!
Test out the visibility of your display before you go to site.
And, don’t forget to check for typos, too as part of your pre-event check.
There isn’t much worse than a mistake in two-feet high lettering that you only discover on exhibition day itself!
Go big with your logo
“People already know who we are,” some companies tell us, preferring to get on with engaging potential customers at their stand rather than showcase their logo.
But, do you know what…they are missing a trick.
If people remember your logo, they’ll remember you…so display it big, high, and with as much emphasis as you can.
Colour and quality are king
Unless you have all the professional resources to hand, don’t try and print your own images. You’ll simply stand out amongst your competitors for all the wrong reasons.
The high quality definition that professional design and printing brings will impress your visitors, conveying the image that your company is just as high quality!
Colour-wise, choose hues that work well with each-other, avoid using different shades of the same colour, and avoid anything too abrasive or mismatched.
Be clear with your messaging
Don’t be half-hearted, or give in to the temptation of trying to appeal to anyone and everyone with your brand message.
Where possible, keep it light-hearted and playful, or serious and meaningful.
You can’t have both…or at least we haven’t seen any successful combination attempts!
Try a clever tagline or catchphrase – if it is clever or catchy.
Remember to use a clear typeface, so all your hard work isn’t wasted on the day.
Remember that graphics tell a story
When it comes to stories, people tend to prefer new, compelling tales to the old ones they’ve already heard many times before.
Don’t be afraid to update your graphics if you feel they’re starting to look tired.
Remember that your stand isn’t a brochure
Brochures are luxurious and aspirational (well, at least they should be!).
You hand your brochure to a visitor, with the hopeful intention that they’ll pore over it later on with their drink of choice.
By contrast, your event stand needs to capture immediate attention, so make sure that yours has a strong focal point, with clear and friendly images that support your chosen message.
Put your graphics in the spotlight
After all that effort, it would be a shame not to really, wouldn’t it?
Imagine the dazzling impact your company could make if your stand had the right kind of lighting…seen from across the room and completely obliterating your competitors’ attempts to shine in the process?
Our friendly and professional team would be delighted to help you achieve all of the above at your next event. Let’s talk about turning your graphics into a sales tool for your business in the world of live events.
We hope that helps you to know how to attract visitors to your stand at a trade show
Helping clients transform their event spaces & exhibiting results | Sales Director, Guardian Exhibition & Display
Call: 01702 662111
Our PowerPoint Designers and Presentation Specialists can help with your next project.
Whether you have a big presentation for a conference where you really want to wow the audience, or you need a new, professional-looking corporate template (or in fact if you need anything PowerPoint-related), here at Presented we have the knowledge and skills to make the magic happen.
Here is a little insight on how our presentation designers work their magic:
Restructure and messaging
Upon receiving your content, the first thing our presentation specialists do is analyse the structure. We know that the message is the most vital part of your presentation and we follow proven scientific principles to get it right. We will often suggest a new presentation structure that best delivers a compelling story that’s easy to understand and remember.
Our PowerPoint designers improve the communication of the content on each slide by various techniques. These include: adding new meaningful headings and creating bespoke/relevant visuals, removing any unnecessary content and where required spreading information over more than one slide. Don’t be scared of more slides, sometimes it’s crucial to really bring out your key messages. Plus, audiences prefer a new slide vs spending more than 10 minutes on the same one. There are lots more scientific principles our specialists follow to help your audience quickly understand the message on each slide.
New presentation design
Our amazing team of PowerPoint designers will create 2 or 3 design concepts. These can be brand new, or can be based on your brand guidelines. We can keep your presentation template branding, and redesign only the content on the slides. Either way, we love to learn your opinion on your design likes/dislikes early on. It helps to keep our presentation specialists on your track.
Here are some before and afters from our portfolio:
Specialist slide build
Once a presentation design sample is approved, we then build your full deck of slides using the style of the design concept you have chosen.
We can create dynamic animations and triggers to bring your content to life and give your presentation even more “whizz bang”. We know that when it is done well, animation can 1) help get your message across, and 2) focus your audience on the important points.
Things you didn’t know were possible in PowerPoint
Did you know… all of this is doable in PowerPoint:
- Hidden menus
- Custom slide shows
Check out some more of our blogs and links to our Presented vimeo page to see some of the stunning things we have done in PowerPoint.
As well as the visually impressive wizardry, we have awesome technical skills too
If you require a new basic template, our PowerPoint experts will use the master slides to build a basic template as we create your presentation. This includes your colour palette, fonts and common slide elements. We can also optimise the presentation to suit different mediums at a later stage if you’d like (e.g. for print, to send on email, to present on iPads etc.).
If you would like to experience how Presented’s presentation specialists can use their skills and knowledge to make magic and transform your presentations simply get in touch.
Word template designers
We didn’t want to shout about it, as it’s probably not cool: but we also have Word template designers here at Presented. (Obviously you already know that PowerPoint is our main cool-tool).
So if your company’s Word templates need some TLC, drop a line to email@example.com
You might need your Word letterheads to be correctly set up – for print or for electronic use. With the right follow on page also (blank, or maybe a more subtle version of your logo). You may have a template already with a great cover page, and then fairly boring internal pages. It doesn’t need to be this way! And check if the palette has been correctly embedded: if it is just the default Office colours you see, then let’s make sure your branding is properly coming through with Palette and Fonts installed in your Word template.
How to make your presentations reflect the value of your business.
Step 1: Save time and stress by getting us, the experts, to do it for you!
I’m kidding, but also not kidding – you and your team have better things to do than slog away for hours in PowerPoint. We hear hundreds of sob stories every year about how many hours are wasted putting poorly designed presentations together.
We have the speed and expertise to take this pain away from you. And once you have a well designed set of slides – in a functional and easy to use template – you’ll find it easier and faster to maintain that standard. After all, most slides can be reused over and over, so if they already look amazing, then you’re set. It’s a worthwhile investment.
Step 2: Evaluate what your company is presenting
Many presenters think that what they do is fine – because everyone else is looking the same. But this should not be permission to keep producing low level presentations. A recent contact heard that his Sales team were satisfied with their presentations as they claimed to be “the best of a bad bunch.” His response?
“I don’t want us to be at the top of the shit pile!”
Step 3: Make some simple changes
So, don’t settle for mediocrity: improve your presentations and your results / conversions / goals will improve too. The design council reported that for every £1 spent on design, you get a £4 return*.
We can help you; working with us isn’t at all painful, and you’ll have something beautiful/valuable to show for it. If you prefer to make your own small improvements, here are some pointers:
1) Avoid bullet points & paragraphs.
Alternative ideas to a list of bullets include popping each sentence into a shape (e.g. a square) and laying those out on the slide in a grid. And avoid paragraphs: do we need to tell you this!? Reduce your text so that it’s good for your audience to experience. They don’t want to read, they want to listen. They cannot listen if you’re presenting them with loads of text to read.
2) Use diagrams, icons, images – that are relevant
I think everyone knows “less text, more images”. But it’s best to avoid photography as it’s usually distracting to your message. Indeed, having no photo is often better (from a communication point of view) than one that looks amazing but is purely decorative. One of the few exceptions is when you’re sharing a photo of your product.
Instead, text content can often be transformed into infographics, data can be visualised in charts instead of tables, icons can be used to code recurring themes, and diagrams that build with animation can dramatically simplify processes and other complex content.
We love to transform all sorts of content types. It can be challenging, but our team have loads of creative ideas and love the challenge.
3) Follow your branding.
If you’re following a company template: Stick to your colours. Stick to your fonts. Use Layouts within your Slides Masters (these should be included in any decent template). Obey where your content should be located – you might follow a grid, or have a simpler rule to keep within certain margins. It looks terrible if your slide titles are inconsistently located or styled, or if everyone is doing different things. Try using the Reset button, or use guides to visually confirm the positioning.
Finally – here are some before and after samples to illustrate some of the above points:
BEFORE POWERPOINT SLIDES:
AFTER POWERPOINT SLIDES:
We are here to help you. To discuss more ideas or if you’re convinced you need to stop wasting your own time designing and endlessly formatting PowerPoint and Word – just drop the team an email, or give us a call. And yes, we are Word template designers too (ssssh).
Our working memory is limited. Our brains can only absorb a certain about of information when new ideas are shared or presented to us. To make your presentation truly memorable you need to consider the limits of working memory and ways to reduce cognitive load. It doesn’t matter how charismatic and entertaining you are, if you overload the memories of your audience, they simply won’t remember it all.
Here are 4 ways on “How to reduce cognitive load in PowerPoint”
Build your presentation around your key messages
When designing your PowerPoint presentation think about what information you want the audience to take away with them, what are your key messages (think in 3s). Make sure these points are emphasized and explained simply without any extraneous “noise”. Include a menu at the start of the presentation and reduce the text on your slides as much as possible. If you are presenting live you do not need to have every word on the screen – your slides should be a visual aid.
Reduce the complexity of your content
One consideration is the complexity of your content – is your subject matter difficult to explain and therefore difficult to learn and remember? As a presenter it is your job to keep your message simple in order to keep your content memorable. This may mean that you are required to break down more complex information into smaller, simpler parts. Similarly, with charts and diagrams, break them down into smaller pieces and use animation and slide transitions to accentuate how everything comes together and highlight key numbers.
Clear the visual junk to reduce cognitive load
The human brain prefers spatial, visual learning and it has been shown that people have 6x better recall when both verbal and visual channels are used together. Avoid extraneous data overload and make it easier for yourself – do not try to describe what can be visualised. Compare these two pie charts, created using the same data. The aim is to highlight the sales on a Friday compared to the rest of the week:
The chart on the left requires the audience to work – they must refer to the legend to figure out what’s what whereas the chart on the right tells an instant story. The amount of “junk” on the chart has been minimized and the Saturday to Thursday information combined to emphasise the point being made.
Use imagery to help recall
In terms of imagery, spatial contiguity proves that learning improves when words are placed near relevant pictures. In other words, using images or graphics to support your text prompts learning. Just make sure your choice of visuals supports your key message. Imagery should “connect the dots” for your audience, so that they can understand more quickly what you’re presenting to them.
As you put your PowerPoint presentation together keep in mind the limits of human working memory – in other words, work to reduce cognitive load. If you aim for simplicity your information will be remembered.
For more information on how we can help you create memorable PowerPoint presentations please contact the Presented team.