In this post, you’ll find simple but effective techniques you can use to engage people more, and make your flow of ideas far clearer than with typical slide titles.
(Have you seen my post on how to grab attention with “ABCD” headlines? If so, you’ll know 4 ways I recommend you use your whole talk’s title to capture people’s interest – even before you speak. The techniques used here are similar to the ones in that post, so if you’ve not seen it, you might want to check it out.)
In your slide titles, I suggest you use either of these powerful, deceptively simple tips:
- Make a claim about part of your topic. For instance, if you’re speaking to a group of new employees in a particular role, you might write:
“Your role has 6 main tasks”
(That technique’s part of what’s called the assertion-evidence approach, advocated by Michael Alley of Penn State Uni.)
- Involve your audience, which happens when you do any 1 or more of these:
Let’s look at some examples. Suppose you’re speaking to a group of managers about on-boarding their new hires.
In the 1st column below, you’ll see some of the slide titles you might’ve used in the past. The 2nd column suggests a better version of each title, and the 3rd column explains the reasoning:
|Old slide title||New slide title||Why’s that better?|
|Aims of on-boarding||On-boarding has 3 goals||The old title just mentions things – “Aims”, “On-boarding” – which, in formal terms, are nouns. That title simply labels what’s on your slide, and doesn’t draw a conclusion. (If you like, you can see the old slide this example’s based on.)
So the old title doesn’t help the audience much. In fact, they’re left to make up their own conclusion, which is hard for them to do while you’re talking to them.
That’s a problem for 2 reasons:
In contrast, the new title makes a claim (“On-boarding has 3 goals”), which helps you and your audience in at least 6 ways:
If you’d like to see how the title now looks on a slide, check out this version of the new slide.
|Value proposition||What benefits do you get?||Again, this old title just mentions a thing (the “Value proposition”), without drawing any conclusions.
This time, the new title involves the audience by asking them a question, which intrigues them about the answer. As you talk through the rest of the slide, you answer the question posed by the slide title.
In fact the new title’s phrased as though you’re saying it directly to 1 person in your audience. (Craig Valentine, who’s a former World Champion of Public Speaking, calls that the Hallway Test. In other words, use words you’d say to 1 person if you passed them in the hallway. So the effect is almost as if you’ve engaged each person in your audience in a 2-way conversation.)
|On-boarding checklist||Get a checklist from our intranet||As before, the old title simply labels what’s discussed on the slide, and doesn’t draw a conclusion or involve your audience.
In contrast, the new title involves the audience by mentioning an action people can take, and tells them where to get more details about your topic.
Over to you
So there you have it – a couple of concrete ways you can make your slide titles more helpful, and some examples to show what I mean.
- Which of the ideas or examples above resonate with you?
- What sort of titles do you tend to use on your slides today?
Also check out
- Do your talks’ titles bore people? Use “ABCD” headlines to grab attention – and keep it
- Slide makeover: 5 steps to replace boring bullets with audience awe
- Be the spark! Ignite action with your talk
- Intrigue people (F!RST framework – part 1i)
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