When I work with clients, I sometimes find that their slide titles are boring and even meaningless. We work together to make the slide titles more powerful
Use verbs when writing slide titles
I recently worked with a client from a Fortune 100 company on a presentation. She needed to make several proposals about how to work with clients. This presentation was also part of a request for a promotion. Of course, I can’t show you the actual presentation, but I wanted to share with you something I discovered — using verbs in your slide titles makes your point much more clear and powerful.
Why is that?
When you add a verb (or even a gerund, a verb with “ing” at the end), you make the title more like a sentence. You go from a fairly meaningless combination of words to a phrase that actually says something. Audience members can read the title and understand immediately what you are trying to say. Adding action to your slide titles makes them speak to your audience and they become more powerful.
Here are some before and after slide titles (modified for privacy):
|Field Reps Sales Transition||Enhance, grow & refine field rep businesses|
|Barbara Doe — Proven Qualities of Responsibility, Relationship Building and Lasting Collaborations||Barbara Doe — Connecting the needs of the sales reps with internal corporate partners|
|Authorized Sales Rep Status||Upgrade authorized sales rep program|
|Regional Sales Rep Development||Focus on regional sales rep strengths|
|Partner Segment A||Partner Segment A is our fastest growing segment|
State the point of the slide in the title
Think of your slide title as a newspaper headline. It makes a statement that entices you to read the article. Your audience doesn’t need to wait or scrutinize the slide to figure out your point. Instead, they get it instantly and then turn their attention to you for elaboration. Here are some before and after examples:
|Evidence Based Research–Benefits||The Transcendental Meditation program reduces blood pressure|
|Plasma Cortisol||Plasma cortisol concentration reduced|
|Post-secondary compliance growth||Our goal is 100% post-secondary compliance!|
|Outcome of low back pain in general practice||Only 25% recovered from low back pain after 12 months|
Write the way you speak
We often write differently than we speak. When we write, our language is more formal. When we speak, we’re more informal. A funny thing happens when people create slides for a presentation. They’re writing, so they use written language style. That ends up sounding stilted when we speak it. It’s also less direct, less clear.
That’s why I work 1-on-1 with my clients. I find that if they just hand over some slides with text on it, I don’t really understand what they are trying to say. But if they speak out a slide to me and we can have a discussion about it, then I can help them rewrite the text on the slide so that it’s more direct and therefore clearer.
It can be hard to write the way you speak, but that’s what you need to do when you’re preparing for a presentation. I recommend that you record yourself giving the presentation and listen to the recording. Then rewrite the text on the slide to be more like your speech and less like a newspaper article or report.
This rewrite should include:
- Omitting unnecessary words
- Using simple words (not overly complex words or jargon)
- Being direct (not beating around the bush)
- Stating the point clearly
Here’s an exercise for you. Go back over a past presentation and edit each slide title so that it actually makes a statement–the main point of your slide. I think you’ll find that the presentation is much clearer!
And by the way, my client got the promotion!
Check out my other blog post on slide titles, “How to design more effective slide titles with the Tell ‘n’ ShowSM method.”
How do you write slide titles? Leave a comment!
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To work with me 1-on-1, check out my training here.