You probably know that creating slides with lots of text on them is a sure sign of “Death by PowerPoint.”
Even if your content is valuable and interesting, the text makes it LOOK boring.
Also, research has shown that images attract more attention.
So the solution is almost always to replace text with images and not put everything you say on the slide.
How do you present without the text?
Presenting without the text on the slides can get some people nervous. Presenting without the text means you have to do one or more of the following:
- Use Presenter view to see your notes (put what you’ll say in the Notes pane in PowerPoint)
- Use written notes or cards
- Practice so you know what you’ll say without seeing the text on the slide
Here are 3 ways you can get most of that text off the slide…
1. Replace text with icons
Icons are very popular these days. They are symbolic, representative graphics and can replace text. PowerPoint comes with a lot of icons (Insert, Pictures, Stock Images, Icons) or you can find icons elsewhere. Ideally, the icon is immediately recognizable so that people know approximately what you’ll say. Of course, the icon can be a prompt for you, too.
In this example:
|“Make a bigger impact in the world because you can reach and teach people anywhere”||3 icons showing 3 sides of the Earths|
|“Enjoy greater freedom because you create your course once and deliver to a group versus providing 1:1 services”||an icon of a person on a lounge chair under a sun umbrella|
|“Help more people in the same amount of time, so you grow your business without working longer hours”||an icon of a large number of people|
|“Coach, teach, and train students from the comfort of your home”||an icon of a house with a wireless symbol over the roof|
Here are some advantages of the makeover:
- The slide looks a lot less busy
- People have to listen to you because they won’t understand the meaning until you explain it to them (but then it should be clear)
- People will remember the images more than the words, so the points will stick with your audience longer
2. Replace text with photos or other graphics
This technique also involves replacing text with images, but not icons. Here you see a list of products and I’ve replaced the list with product images. You may have seen slides or websites that show customer logos. While the logos usually also include the company name, in my example, the title of the product is not always as obvious.
In this case, the slide still looks busy, but that’s actually the point — there are so many products! The product images are a lot more interesting and people will remember them more than the list of product titles.
3. Remove indented text (sub-bullets)
You’ve probably seen slides with bullets, sub-bullets, and maybe sub-sub-bullets. Even if you make it look “pretty” with SmartArt, it’s too much and you can often just leave out the indented text (sub-bullets).
In this example, I also added icons.
First, there’s less text. Second, the icons help people remember the points.
There are other things you can do to make the slide prettier or more memorable, such as add a photo of a happy person in the background. After all, people are happy to save money, save time, reduce risk, and fulfill their desire to get their knowledge out to the world.
What to do next
Make over some overly wordy slides using these techniques and practice delivering them without all of the text on the slides. Does this work for you?
My High-Persuasion Presentation Program teaches a system of designing slides that is easy for non-designers and will reduce the amount of text you put on a slide.
Check it out here.
Please ask a question or leave a comment below and use the share buttons below to inform your colleagues about these techniques.
Great points Ellen. Personally I prefer to always combine an icon with one or two keywords, as their intended meaning may get lost on people quite quickly.
Also: to get less text on slides, I always go back to the big ‘Divide and Conquer’: is there truly only one message on the slide? Otherwise, we split them up into multiple slides. Slides are free, so it’s a great way to keep focus.
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