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It’s OK if your slides suck

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Wednesday 15th January 2020

I had a kind of light bulb moment this week. Of course, I’m always going on about how great-looking slides are going to boost the effectiveness and engagement of your presentation but here’s the thing I discovered: In most cases it doesn’t matter if your slides suck.

“What? Have you gone mad Dave?” I hear you ask. “Are you feeling OK?”

Well, I did say in most cases. The reason it doesn’t matter in most cases is that, in most cases, everyone’s slides suck. So, if you’re at an event where all the other speakers are using sucky slides then you can probably get away with being part of the same gang (but please don’t ask me to the event!)

But if there’s a speaker there who’s using slides designed by a presentation specialist then you could be in trouble. A poor slide presentation will stand out like a very sore thumb.

How do you know if your slides suck? There are two problems here. Firstly, if you’ve produced your own slides then you probably think they are the dog’s knees. All that effort you’ve put in must mean they are great and no-one is going to tell you otherwise! Secondly, well, I just said it there: the chances are no-one will tell you how bad your slides were. You know who they will tell though? Everyone else.

If I’m at an event where people in the audience know I am The Slide Presentation Man then I get them coming up to me at the end and asking “What did you think of those slides?” My response? I ask them “What did you think of those slides?” And they’ll tell me their undiluted opinion which, of course, they wouldn’t repeat in front of the presenter.

In the last week I can think of three presentations I have seen where this has happened. In one case the situation is almost irredeemable as the slides were so bad and the speaker so entrenched in his belief that they were perfectly good that he’s best left to his delusion.

The other two cases were speakers who were very highly regarded and who both gave presentations that were lauded by the audience. Except that in both cases I had conversations with audience members afterwards along the lines of what I said above.

I’m hoping I might be able to help both of these speakers to produce a slide deck that is as professional and awe-inspiring as they are on stage so that the slides are congruent with them.

Watch this space!