When writing your content, drop the jargon and talk to people like human beings. Be straight-talking, clear and simple – and people will thank you.
So you’ve got a solid structure (Step 1) and a clear narrative with the help of storytelling headlines (Step 2). Give yourself a pat on the back. You should now be in a good place to start populating your presentation content.
When writing your content, lose the corporate mumbo-jumbo or superfluous waffle. It won’t impress your audience – or worse still, it could confuse them. Be straight-talking, clear and simple. This applies to both your onscreen copy and your verbal storytelling. Remember what Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
We’re big believers in dropping the jargon, cutting through the complexity and appealing to both the heart and the head. Think about both science and art to get your points across. Science to appeal to the head (stats, data, facts, proof) and art to appeal to the heart (stories, anecdotes, experiences, case studies, quotes).
Building a presentation is an iterative process; it will never be perfect on your first go (unless you’re a presentation unicorn – in which case, take a selfie and send it to us please). You’ll most likely find that you’ve got way too much content than what is actually required (although this problem should be mitigated if you’ve used storytelling headlines properly). So, when you get to your second round of content edits, cut-cut-cut! Get rid of the fluff that just adds wastage and eye rolls. Focus on the important stuff that matters. Take your time and be ruthless. As the saying goes, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
If your slides start looking cluttered, and you start creating sub-points within points within points, something’s gone awry! Stop. Reverse. Take action. And above all: Do. Not. Use. Bullet. Points.
Can you move the majority of your copy to Speaker Notes instead – particularly if they’re just crib notes for yourself? Speaker Notes are a fantastic tool to help prompt you on what you need to say, without cluttering your slide and confusing your audience. Did you know you can also format your speaker notes for easier reading and printing? We’re not advocating that your speaker notes become your crutch (hell, no!). What we are saying is that they’re a great tool to capture all your thoughts, without having them clutter your slides.
All of the above takes practice, so as you’re building your presentation content, ensure you ask yourself each time your write a sentence or add in a chart, “Can I be more straight-talking? Do I really need this part? Can I simplify it even more? Do I sound like a pretentious idiot?”
The more you follow these writing guidelines, the more your message will cut through.
In the next post, we’ll talk about some tools of the trade to help ensure your presentation is memorable, long after you leave that meeting or stage. Read on for Step 4. Making your presentation stick.