How much do you (or your colleagues) use bullet points on your slides?
Want to change that?
If so, I’ve a great resource for you. It’s a fascinating video by a design agency called M62 Vincis, showing how you can use very simple diagrams in place of bullet points.
Below, check out the 8-minute video, presented by their CEO, Nicci Take (formerly known as Nicholas Oulton). It shows an example of how to transform a typical bullet-based slide into a simple diagram. And as Nicci shows, diagrams are far more engaging, memorable and effective than bullet points:
I love that Nicci talks about what she calls “visual cognitive dissonance” (at 3:50), meaning slide content that’s very simple, yet not self-explanatory. With content like that on your slide, you intrigue your audience about what it means, so they listen keenly to you to solve that mystery.
How different that is from bullet points (especially when they’re self-explanatory). With bullets, your slide actually competes with you for audience attention. So your audience has to work hard to keep up with what you’re presenting, which makes people tune out. And that’s particularly true if you’re just echoing or paraphrasing what’s written on the slide, because then you’re not adding any value.
As Nicci says:
“How much more effective will your
presentations be if the audience want
to know what you’ve got to say…?” (4:15)
She goes on to demonstrate just how forgettable bullet points are for your audience – and for you! As she puts it:
“If the audience can’t remember 100%
of the content 3 minutes after you presented it,
what’s the point of the bullet points?” (6:10)
Mind you, to keep your audience interested, I’d say you need more than 1 type of slide. So I suggest you use a variety of (mostly) visual content, rather than only diagrams. For instance, you might show a quote on one of your slides sometimes, or even use a few bullet points (or a similar list) from time to time. For more about the need for variety, please see this post:
Over to you
I think the video’s great, and that it’s packed with superb advice. What do you think? I’d love to hear your perspective, so please share your views in a comment.
Also check out
- Intrigue people (F!RST framework – part 1i)
- 12+ ways to be remembered when you present (F!RST framework – part 3)
- Quiz: How many words should you put on your slide, and why?
- Slide makeover: 5 steps to replace boring bullets with audience awe
- Don’t blame bullet points for bad presentations – too much of anything’s to blame
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