The secret is … simplicity.
I was making a presentation this morning before a hundred or so people. It’s usually pretty easy to get the mood of the room. People are absorbing what you’re saying, or texting and not interested. (This group was interested.) Want to know how that happened?
How to keep your audience’s interest.
How many sides are in your deck? How much information is on the slides? How much of that information is picture-drive, and how much is word-driven? What font size do you use?
Those are all important questions. Here are the answers for me . If I am making an hour-long presentation and I have more than 20 slides, I know I have too many. Ten is good. Six is brilliant. Why? Do you want people trying to read your slides or do you want them paying attention to you as a dynamic speaker? I’d go for the dynamic speaker thing. Works better. If the presentation is ten minutes, no more than six slides.
Picture-driven slides are more effective than wordy slides. Most people are not media multi-taskers, so if you are asking them to read a complex slide deck and listen to you at the same time, their attention will suffer. Strong images permit people to concentrate on what you’re saying. That’s better. Next time you’re making a presentation, look around the room. Get a sense of how things are going. (You’d be amazed at how people don’t try this simple step.) If you’ve got too much information in your slide deck, you’ll see people looking distracted or stressed. If you have the right amount of info, you’ll see interested faces.
If you’re using 12 point type to squeeze everything in, just stop right now. Keep font size 30 point and larger. You want people at the back of the room to be able to see, and using a larger font makes it harder for you to over-do the deck with TMI that people won’t get anyway.
Presenting on an iPad.
If you’re presenting to just a few people on an iPad you can break all these rules. The one-to-one nature of an iPad presentation encourages people to ask you to slow down, go back over something, get into a conversation about it.