During your professional life, you’ve no doubt seen more slides with bullet lists on them than any other type of slide. The problem is, so have your audiences, too.
You can’t inspire a disengaged audience…
This is what the slide will look like when you finish the makeover:
- Reword each bullet point as a short phrase. For instance, you might reword the original slide this way:
Original bullet points Reworded to short phrases To ensure that you or someone in your team takes responsibility for on-boarding any new starters that you have in the UK On-board your new hires To allocate a “buddy” to every new starter and ensure they are aware of this and their role Brief a “buddy” To ensure your new starter has everything they need to do their job successfully Support them To be available and make time for your new starter and give them any support they need Make time To ensure individual objectives are agreed for the remainder of the year Agree goals To ensure that the 90 day on-boarding plan is completed for every new starter Oversee 90-day plan
If you’re worried that you might forget what you meant to say, see these concrete tips and screenshots of “secret” PowerPoint features that let you avoid that fate.
- On a new slide, insert a full-screen photo that evokes an appropriate emotion. For instance, for the sample bullet list about employee on-boarding, you might use the metaphor of preparing to launch new hires to new heights:
If you’re wondering, I got the photo from Pixabay, which means it can be used freely and without attribution – even for commercial projects.
- Add a large shape to represent each bullet, and neatly arrange them on your slide. (You can use the Align and Distribute commands to do that far more quickly than by other means. If you’d like to see how, please leave a comment and I’ll share the details.)
So for the 6 bullets above, at this stage you might have a slide that looks like this:
- Label each shape using your short phrases:
- Lastly, subtly animate the shapes so they quickly fade in 1-by-1 as you click. (To do that, use the Custom Animation button on the Animations tab. Again, if you’d like more details, just let me know.)
That way, people stay “tuned in” to what you’re saying, instead of reading ahead – or zoning out!
To your audience, your first 3 clicks might look something like this:
(By the way, as shown above, it’s best to reveal the shapes in a novel order, rather than top-to-bottom or left-to-right. So in this instance, the shapes alternate between the top and bottom ½ of the slide. That keeps your audience even more attentive, as they’ll try to guess what you’ll do next!)
Having read those 5 steps, you might be thinking to yourself:
“Hold on! Isn’t all that much more work than just typing a bullet list?”
The answer to that question’s simple:
“Yes, it’s certainly more work!”
And that’s why roughly 99% of presenters won’t do it. Which means if you put in the effort, you can be the 1 presenter in 100 that people notice, listen to, and love!
One of my favourite quotes from Nancy Duarte springs to mind:
“We work in a first-draft culture. Type an e-mail. Send.
Write a blog entry. Post. Whip up some slides. Speak.
But it’s in crafting and recrafting – in iteration and
rehearsal – that excellence emerges.”
Too right, Nancy!
Have you tried an approach like this to replace bullet points? Whether you have or haven’t, please let me know your thoughts or questions.
Check out these posts too, which give you many other visually appealing options:
- “Dump text from your slides! Here’s how…” by me
- “6 alternatives to bullet lists” by Connie Malamed
- “15 ways to turn a very text-heavy, bullet-ridden slide into amazing!” by SlideTeam
- Show cues before content (5 intriguing ways to animate your slides)
- Dump text from your slides! Here’s how – without forgetting what to say (or skipping key details)
- Quiz: How many words should you put on your slide, and why?
- Abandon your agenda! (3 options that beat “Tell them what you’re going to tell them…” when you present)
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