Quotes from Rick Altman’s web article on ‘reciting your slides’

Quotes from: Rick Altman (2005) The Golden Triangle: Presenter, Audience and Slides, ‘Presenters University’, www.presentersuniversity.com

“…. Reciting your slides: If bad animation is the most inhibitive to connecting with your audience, this one is a close second. This creates any or all of the following impressions: 1) You did not prepare; 2) You are incapable of communicating an original thought; and 3) You have doubts that your audience members are smart enough to be able to read the slide on their own.

These are not exactly the things you meant to convey when you found yourself reciting each bullet, word for word, in front of a room full of people. But the problem is that it’s quite hard to avoid it. When something appears on screen, it’s all-too-easy to treat it like a script. Your mission as you prepare your bullet points is to make it practically impossible to do that.

Let’s say that you are creating a presentation on this very topic. Here are the points you want to make:

Bullets are at their best when they…

· Give the audience more substance than if they are just listening to you

· Help guide the audience through your topics

· Show them the logical progression of your ideas

If you display this verbose slide and then read it aloud, you do nothing to engender confidence with your audience. And you will sound like a drone. So instead, create bullets that do not compel you to commit droneage. What if you displayed this instead:

The three reasons to use bullets:

· 1 + 1 = 3

· I need a map and I need it now!

· Breadcrumbs are an audience’s best friend

These bullets are imaginative, effectively vague, and coy. Moreover, they will not compel you to recite them word for word, although if you did, it wouldn’t be as bad as with the verbose slide, because you would obviously elaborate about each point. With the coy bullets, you have no choice but to turn to the audience and state your case.

And when you’re done stating your case, then you can replace the coy slide with the verbose one (using a nice fade, of course!), so that you give them the visual of your idea. In fact, how bad would it be if, before displaying the verbose slide, you recited it word for word? Not too bad, actually—reciting bullets before they appear is not nearly as bad as doing it afterward. You tell your audience that you have given thought to an effective way to present the idea, you don’t drone, and you don’t risk insult to their intelligence.

Everyone knows that it is not wise to recite bullets aloud, but not as many realize that it’s hard not to. It’s worth the extra effort to create bullets that don’t turn you into a drone.”


About nickzsc

I'm a civil engineer and a lecturer in the Department of Real Estate and Construction at Oxford Brookes. Amongst others I have interests in problem-based learning (PBL) and improving the learning experience through the use of various technologies including 'Virtual Learning Enviroments', wikis and blogs. To be continued
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