Less Is More
How much can you eliminate from your presentation? Rather than adding more bullets or text or pictures or stories or illustrations, instead see how much you can get rid of.
Which points are most important?
What information is essential for your audience to make a decision/take action?
Rather than telling a story for each point, is there one story that says it all?
Do you have to show all the data or can you just present the conclusions drawn from that data? Perhaps put the data itself in a handout or online?
Does your slide need text or can it function with just pictures?
Do you need a background or can you just use full-bleed (take up the whole screen) images?
Do the animations add anything or could they be removed? Instead of multiple transitions, could you just set them all to “Appear”?
Could you get away with just using one font? Maybe just vary the size?
Do you need lots of color? What about black and white images, with one other color to highlight the important parts?
The answers to these questions run counter to our gut feelings about things. We want people see how knowledgeable we are so we try to tell them everything we know in one shot. In reality, no presentation could ever cover everything you know about a topic, particularly if you’re knowledgeable enough to have been asked to speak. Instead, take things out. How much? As much as you can.
In the words of Albert Einsten, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
Including too much is actually a form of laziness. It’s easy to just dump all the information in our heads on an audience. That’s why it happens so often.
Eliminating content takes longer, but like so many things in life the extra work is worth it in the end. Your audience will thank you for giving them only the information they require. And the simplicity will make your message more like to be understood and remembered.