How to reduce text on slides

Reduce text for 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 the key information. We cannot listen and read simultaneously, and our default is to read. So, if 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 regarding how to reduce text on slides
(avoid wordiness and focus your audience’s attention).

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.

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.

3. Use slide headings as a summary message.

Put your key message for each slide into the header for that slide – 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.

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.

SO! 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.