3 More Sins to Sink Your Slides

presentation slides, presentationsIn my last post I shared 3 sins that could sink your chances of presentation success. Here are 3 more sins to avoid if you want to create presentation slides that most effectively get your message across.

Sin #4: All & Nothing Show

When you turn the page in a book, all the words on the next page appear in front of you, and nothing else appears until the next page is turned. In the same way when you change slides, all the content on the next slide appears in front of your audience, and there’s no more content to be seen until you change the slide for your audience.

Again, remember your audience haven’t come to your presentation to read a book, so don’t design your slides as you would pages of a book. Even after you’ve spread your content across multiple slides, you will likely find some slides still in competition with your voice for your audience’s attention.

To avoid committing this sin, look to reveal your slide one part at a time. Presentation software can help with this. For example in MS Powerpoint this is called ‘Animating’ your slide. This allows you to control the sequence and timing of when content appears on your slide. For example if you have 3 bullet points on your slide. Then instead of revealing all 3 at once, you can use animation to bring them up one point at a time thereby synchronizing what your audience are hearing with what they are seeing. In a similar way you can animate any object on your slide whether it be text, shapes, pictures, or models. Of course you can choose to split this slide into multiple slides, which achieves the same result when presenting, but by animating you also save time with updating your slides if you need to modify content later.

Sin #5: Copy & Paste from Spreadsheet to Slide

So you’ve got some data, and maybe some analysis which you’ve neatly summarized into a table or chart using a spreadsheet. This is important data for your presentation, so you copy and paste this from your spreadsheet into your slide. Great work!

Only one problem. You understand the data because you created it. But will your audience? Granted some will. Others will with a bit of time staring at it. And then some will just not, or worse still think they’ve understood it but actually understood incorrectly.

Spreadsheets are great for number crunching and data analysis, and chances are the way you design your spreadsheet is primed for supporting this main goal. For analysis not communication. Presentations however are for communication not analysis.

To avoid committing this sin, look at your data, table, or chart through the lens of communication. Is it simple, non-ambiguous, and free from noise. Remove anything (text, numbers, colours) that is not essential to your key message. Save detail for a handout.

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Sin #6: Art Over Message

There’s an abundance of features in presentation software, and with a bit of playing around you can easily create a slide filled with variety and fanciful objects. Colour, fonts, movement, special effects – heck you can create a production rather than a presentation with a little imagination!

However fanciness equals unnecessary distraction and will almost always get in the way of your audience comprehending the message being reinforced by your slide.

To avoid committing this sin, use a presentation template and stick consistently to the colours, fonts, and layouts in the template. Avoid movement especially whilst if on screen whilst you are talking. Save your precious time by keeping your slides simple and instead put it towards rehearsing your presentation, which will make a much bigger difference to your presentation success.

If this sounds a bit boring and does not match your personality, then unleash your expressive nature with your body and words. It will have far greater effect and be co-ordinated with your message, a lot more powerfully than Art on a slide.


Most people can’t read, interpret, and listen at the same time, or at least, do so with much effectiveness. Don’t treat your presentation slides like a document. Don’t treat your presentation slides like a spreadsheet. And don’t make your presentation slides your speech. The keys to making slides work with you and not against you is to develop them AFTER you have worked out what you want to say and design with simplicity and consistency.

What other sins are you aware of?

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