Another solution is to know how to organize your slides to make them suitable for both the online and offline versions of your presentation. That can be accomplished in few simple steps:
Step #1: Define the story you’re telling; the big picture
Start crafting your presentation with the core message in mind. Then, create the simplified version visually. Use this version to create zoom-in and zoom-out slides as you go. Keep the connection between the simplified big-picture slide and the detailed ones. This gives your audience the option to decide which level of details they’d like to see when they read your slides on their own. More importantly, it gives YOU the option to decide what to broadcast during your live presentation. It frees you from having to think about what is important and what’s not.
Step #2: Maintain the density of your content
I can’t stress this enough, folks. You need to put yourself in the place of the audience and think of the kind of information that they would like to consume during and after your presentation. Here’s a few strategies that worked for me:
Start with the core message on the first slide (even if it’s just one sentence). Be concise. “Begin with the end in mind” — Seth Godin
Then, group and summarize your supporting arguments on separate slides. Maintain the density of information shared by following the rule of three — do not add more than three supporting arguments to each main idea. This is to ensure that your audience can consume the information shared on their own. You can follow the Pyramid Principle to structure your message following the rule of three.
Finally, define what’s important (should go on your live presentation) and what’s supplementary (you can skip through it or add it as an appendix).
Step #3: Build a visual hierarchy
Don’t get swallowed by the desire to share everything at once. Keep in mind that people can consume so much information at once. That’s where the visual hierarchy comes in play. In this step, you will focus on organizing your content on your slides.
A- Presenting a single idea or message per slide
One way to prevent creating a jack-of-all-trades dense presentation deck is by showing a single element or idea at a time. When your audience see one element on the slide, their attention will be on that element and you. Once you’re done talking about that idea, you can move on to the next one (or skip through it if it’s supplementary). This can seriously improve your storytelling skills. It will demonstrate that you are prepared and you know your content very well.
B- Using animation whenever possible
If you decide that presenting more than one idea works better for your story, use animation to direct your audience’s focus on just one piece of visual at a time while controlling when exactly they will look at it. This works for both live presentation decks and offline documents. Remember not to over do it with the animation.
Fun Fact: I am forced to take these decisions on a daily basis — I call it micro-adulting. It could make or break your audience experience, so make sure you use these strategies with purpose in mind.
Have you heard of Slidedocs by Nancy Duarte?
Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design created a new concept for communicating through presentations: Slidedocs. It’s a “a visual document, developed in presentation software, that is intended to be read and referenced instead of projected” (Carey Dunne — Fast Company). Slidedocs are meant to be distributed and not presented. They are much easier to read and follow than a regular document. In her book, she details the right design and layout that you can download a copy of for free here.
Let’s now get into what your presentation should look like (aka: layout). We’re going to partially adopt Nancy Duarte’s Slidedocs approach but with a little spin.
The core message has to be the biggest and brightest part of your slide. You could use a big image or a strong contrasting colour to highlight it.
The detailed subject matter should be on the non-reading side of your slide. The reading side is the left side for English text because that’s where your eyes will be drawn to first when you look at the slide. You can combine both visuals and text to explain the core message.