Three rules that help you make your slides (a lot) better

For some speakers building slide decks can be difficult. They spend hours crafting them. They add images, they add text and in some cases too many bullets. When they then get on stage, the presentation doesn’t work.

They don’t work, not because the speaker isn’t good, but because the slide deck isn’t working.

These speakers don’t know how to use slide decks to benefit their talks. Instead, the slide decks prevent them from doing a good talk!

These speakers often don’t understand why they have slides in the first place. With some changes however, they could make their slides work for them.

I want to point out three important elements when it comes to slides to you. If you stick by these rules, your slides will instantly become better.

1. Slides are meant to be visual aids

I know plenty of speakers who feel their slides are the presentation. If they just follow what’s on them, they will be ok. But in the end, these speakers often do nothing more than reading out the slides. To be honest, your audience doesn’t need you for that. They can do that themselves. If you want to do that, just put up the slides, sit down and click through them so your audience can read them. You won’t have any other value anyway.

Instead, your slides are meant to help explain the presentation. This means that anything that goes on the slides should help make the story better, should explain your story. A slide can help people remember what you are talking about, it can help show what you mean. Treat them as such. Let the slide help you!

2. Slides can change the mood

I’ve spoken a lot about ‘relax slides’, both on the websiteon YouTube and in the email series. Relax slides are slides that help the audience brains to understand the bigger picture of the story. They are there so the audience has time to think about what you just explained to them. 

But slides can do a lot more. For example, they can change the mood. If used in the wrong way, the mood can change without you wanting it to change, but you can use them to change the mood on purpose. Putting up a slide with a funny image on it will make people smile for example. Or putting on a slide with children will make the audience more ‘soft’, where an image with a lot of colours will make them feel riled up. And if you want their attention, put on a graph or a number.

Play with the slides to get them in a specific mood, or at least be aware of what mood you are bringing them in!

3. Speak in pictures

That brings me to the third rule. You want to ‘speak in pictures’. What do I mean with that? When you build a slide deck, make sure to use a lot of pictures. And as I said above, make sure these pictures help the story. Remember to not make them an exact representation of what you say. Slides should support the story! They should match your words to reinforce them. 

Even beyond that, if you are building your deck, most slides should be pictures. As soon as you put text on the slides one thing happens: people start reading. And when they do that, they stop listening to you. Try to use as little text as possible and use images instead. 

Images support your words. They make it easier to understand. But also, they make it easier to remember. When people think about your presentation afterwards, when they are for example going through their notes, they will remember the pictures and associate them with it. It also works the other way around: when they see your pictures, they will remember your words!

As you can see, there is a lot more to building a slide deck than putting text on them. It’s important to think about the effect the slides have on your audience. 

How’s your deck?

When you stick to the three rules above, your slide decks will drastically improve. But there is a lot more you can do. Think about structuring them, think about the number of slides and think about what people do with your deck after the session for example.

I figured out the strategy to built slide-decks that are crafted so my audience understands and acts on it. My strategy makes sure the presentation has impact.

In my coaching sessions with clients, these are things that we talk about. We structure presentations, we look at images and we make the impact of the speaker bigger with it. 

“Bas has been able to give me many useful tips. The most valuable thing about Bas’s tips is that you can apply these directly in practice.”

Gijs van Puijenbroek, Techonomy

Would you like that as well? Get in touch and we’ll make your slide decks stand out as well! 

This tip is part of our email series, subscribe here or get the ebook with the best tips below!