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Sarah Mariski
Noodle Expert Member

June 23, 2020

Graphics are supplemental to your words. Use them to enhance, not overpower your hard work

When giving a slideshow presentation, there are two key factors which determine your overall success. First is your speaking ability. How well did you convey your message and engage your audience? Second is your actual slideshow presentation and all the information, graphics, and research. The slideshow should be supplemental to your speech. What you choose to include in each slide will invoke a reaction from the audience whether positive or negative. As an end result, each slide must provide a visual description of your topic, clarify important information, and reinforce key ideas - all in a condensed format. Here are some tips to achieve just that.

Use Alternative Slides 

It is easy to choose a default slide from PowerPoint or Google Slides. After all, the most important part of the presentation is the content. However, neglecting to choose a proper theme can send the wrong message to your audience. A simple presentation style may be repetitive at best and actively contradicting your content at worse. Taking time to tailor your graphical theme to your presentation topic will make the slideshow cohesive. Sites such as SlidesCarnival and Hubspot have free downloadable slideshow templates containing a variety of presentation themes including medical, scientific, literature, business, social science, etc.

Don’t Rely On Text

Too much text and your audience will get confused. They won’t know whether to look at the slide or listen to what you are saying. If this happens, they may give up, and then the research you worked hard to coordinate will be forgotten. To prevent this, utilize some basic tips to declutter your slides:

  1. Make sure each slide has one main idea. 
  2. Use images consistently, as they can hold your audience's attention by communicating in a visual way. Make sure all pictures are clear, legal, evenly-cropped and the correctly sized. However, make sure to avoid cutesy images, fly-in texts or transitions. Unless they are 100% related to the topic, they could damage your credibility and professionalism.  
  3. Try to utilize the 2-4-8 rule. This means that there should be no more than 1 slide every two minutes, no more than four bullets per slide, and no more than eight words per bullet. It’s not essential to use this method religiously but the main point is that when it comes to slideshow presentation graphics, less is more.  

Slides Should Never Replace The Speaker

Always remember that you can say anything during a presentation, but everything that you say should not be on the slide. There is no purpose of having a speaker if everything you say is visible word by word. Sometimes you don’t need words at all, you can easily have an image take up the entire slide and the audience will focus on you. People’s minds cannot be two places at once so if your audience is reading the slides for too long, they are not invested in what you are saying.

Creating appropriate slideshow graphics can be tricky. You have to present a large (and sometimes complex) amount of information while taking into account the audience's attention span. Your presentation will not be successful if the audience has no interest. This is why it is up to you to thoroughly engage the audience and provide demonstrative graphics further illustrating your point. Combine those two factors and your presentation will be outstanding. Good luck!

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