Monday, July 19, 2010

Speaking and Presenting Tips - Bullets

I’ve heard this before, it came up in the Tufte seminar I took, and it also was something that grated on my nerves at TechEd recently. I was in a presentation and saw a slide titled “Agenda” that had bullet points like this:

  • History of xxx
  • Problem of DIY
  • Reference examples
  • Basic structure
  • Enhancements
  • Security
  • Common Uses
  • Expansion to other systems
  • Summary

These weren’t the exact items, but it didn’t matter. This was a BI course on a Microsoft technology, but a Microsoft PM, and he read each of these, giving a sentence or two about what it meant.


Don’t do that. Studies show that people can read much, much faster than you can speak. By the time you’ve started to talk about this, most everyone in the room has read the entire slide.

The same goes for any other slide. People read it, heck, as the speaker I’ll glance back and usually read the entire thing in a couple seconds and then start talking.

Give people information that’s not on the slide. They’ll read what’s there, so go into depth on what you actually want to say. If everything is on the slide, why are you there? Just send them an article, or move them all to Starbuck and hold a “reading” of your material there, similar to what most libraries do for 4 year olds.

Give people information that’s not on the slide, and don’t read what is.

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