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  • Writer's pictureDonald Macintyre

The Secret of Powerful Presentations: Less is Always More




a woman pointing a pen on presentation screen

Presentations are a powerful way to present complex information, from business strategies and earnings reports to exciting new medical breakthroughs. Since the brain grasps images much faster than words, the visuals help the audience digest the ideas. So why do so many presentations leave the audience with mental indigestion?


Too often, a medium that is a powerful tool in the right hands becomes a painful ordeal for the audience. Perhaps because it is so easy to create more words and slides, presenters seem to forget the cardinal rule of communication: less is more.


less if more

 

The audience is already working hard, listening to you and scanning the words and images on your slides. Text-heavy slides, tiny fonts, and overpowering images make them work even harder. And that’s when you start to lose them. Minds start to drift to all those emails going unread, the work piling up, the looming deadlines. You need to convince your listeners that this is going to be worth their while.

 

Start by keeping the language on your slides simple, clear and concise. Use as few words as possible. Avoid long, convoluted sentences. Resist the temptation to inflict trendy buzzwords and jargon on your audience. You want to focus on what you are saying; the slides should reinforce your message, not distract from it.

 

The less-is-more rule also applies to what you, the speaker, are saying. Complex language is the enemy of audience engagement. Long sentences are even harder to grasp when spoken. Keep resisting the temptation to use jargon. When language is easily understood, listeners are more likely to stay focused on you and off their phones. Plain, everyday language invites the audience into the conversation.  

 

And, of course, the less-is-more maxim also applies to the images on your slides. Keep them clean and simple, and ensure they support your ideas.  Focus on delivering a clear message rather than overwhelming the audience with flashy visuals. Presentation software has no shortage of bells and whistles – use them sparingly.

 


keep it simple

After all, you want your audience to remember the key points in your presentation. People absorb - and retain - information presented in clear language, supported by strong images. That’s particularly important in business, where decision-makers often have limited time and bandwidth. You don’t want your boss to work any harder than she needs to. Not to mention the investor who might be willing to pour $10 million into your start-up,

 

In a world awash in information, keeping it simple increases your chances of cutting through the noise. And your audience will thank you.





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