Ask yourself, honestly: How long will you spend preparing your next presentation? It can be a long process of course. Yet, it’s likely you’ll often get distracted by your other work and not get to spend the time your talk needs. Or your slides may become so vital to your talk – or so detailed – that you spend nearly all your available prep time grooming them.
“Spend 80% of your preparation
working out what to say.”
That puts well-deserved emphasis on your message itself, rather than on the slides you use just to support it. I’d say it’s roughly the opposite of what most people do though. So (if you’re like most presenters) you’ll likely spend around 80% (or more) of your time on your slides – repurposing, writing, editing, and formatting. But doing that makes your slides in effect the most important part of your talk, which they really don’t deserve.
Why don’t they? Well, if your slides are so important, why are you standing there talking about them? Surely you could just send them to people and not bother presenting at all.
By you narrating your slides, you make it harder for your audience to focus on your visuals. And equally, your slides make it harder for people to focus on you.
Instead, to avoid splitting people’s attention, I recommend you put very little on your slides. That way, your audience can look at each slide for just about 3-5 seconds and then return their attention to you. To complete the effect, whenever you show a new slide, stay silent for a few seconds while people absorb it.
If you make and use your slides that way, you should need less time to prepare them, because they’ve so little content. That frees your time to more clearly work out what you’ll say, and to rehearse your talk several times – so you can iron out the rough spots before you face your audience!
Please then, do as Emma suggests: Aim to spend 80% of your preparation time on crafting and rehearsing your message, and only 20% on your slides.
Over to you
- How much of your prep time do you spend working out your message itself?
- And what proportion do you spend expressing that message on your slides?
- Please let me know in the comment box below.
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