Every slide has a point. Even the bad ones. If you don’t make one, people will assume one. So half the battle in building slide decks, (and creating compelling messages) is figuring out what the point really is.
Take this infamously bad slide. General Stanley McChrystal famously said, “when we understand this slide we’ll have won the war.” I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intended point of the slide. I confess in fact even after hours of study, I am not sure what the real point is, but the one I take away is, wow, this is a really, really, really complex situation. By the way, that’s the same point I took away after a few seconds.
If you want to avoid General McChrystal’s (or anyone elses) snark,
When you’re creating slides, follow 6 simple steps.
1. Isolate the main point of the slide.
The easiest way to do this is to just tell a friend. You will always know it. Have your friend write down what you say.
2. Make sure it’s correct
Nothing blows a presentation like factual errors. Except maybe the abject panic that follows when you realize the error in front of hundreds of people.
3. Make sure it’s concrete.
Be specific. Some advice from a wise old Accountant to me, when working on a budget. “Don’t make it $10,000, people will think you made that up. Make it $9,987. Then they’ll believe you.” Who knew? wisdom from an accountant.
4. Add a smidge of emotion.
At the very least, remove the corporate pig-latin and the acronyms. People will pay attention more and remember longer if you appeal to emotion as well as logic. I admit, there is none in the example below. Sorry.
5. Make it Visual.
Remember, if 62% of statistics are made up on the spot, adding a picture increases the truthiness of your presentation by 94%. (See points 4 and 3.)
6. Play and Polish.
That is how you sharpen your point.
Here’s an example.
Gavin is a founding partner at fassforward consulting group. He blogs about PowerPoint, Presenting, Communication and Message Discipline at makeapowerfulpoint.com. You can follow him on twitter @powerfulpoint.