Forgive me but I need to rant: Your presentation slides suck.

That was the thought going through my mind when I was searching for good examples of presentation slides for a course I am teaching.

All I wanted to find were slides that were clean, simple, and readable. Sounds easy, right?

Wrong. I searched through social media, photos I had taken at conferences and even Google with no luck.

What I found were slides that had more words on them than War and Peace. Slides with unreadable fonts, colours that faded into the white background, and graphics run amuck.

And bullets…so many bullets. People it is 2019. Don’t you know bullets kill?

It’s like everyone gets stupid or something when they open PowerPoint or Canva, or whatever tool they use. The feeling of being in every presentation where they died just a little goes out the window. They commit every sin they have seen before.

Why do we still keep doing this?

I have a few reasons.

First, we confuse our slides with our presentation. The slides should be a visual addition to our presentation…NOT be the presentation. If the audience can read the slide deck and contextually get all the information they need, save them the pain. Email it to them.

Second, we look at our slides from an expert’s perspective and not an audience’s. We are thinking about our brand, message, genius and let’s face it, ego.  We want to impress – look professional and polished. We don’t think what it is like to be in the audience trying to make sense of what we are seeing. If we can see it all.

Similarly, slides aren’t a marketing tool. People treat their slides like a brochure or infographic that people are going to take the time to read. If the sole purpose is to create a slide and use it on Slide Share, then go for it. But in reality, people can’t read and listen at the same time. Use a handout instead to share important information. And this does not mean we should print our slides either. Create a handout that stands alone and serves as a great future reference. That’s what makes us look professional and polished.

Finally, we all think we can be graphic designers. Just because we have the option for a funky font, does not mean we should use it. The same goes for graphics and colours. When it comes to slides, less is more. Even the best graphic designers don’t understand that too much detail causes the human brain to become overwhelmed. Audience’s don’t know what to focus on so they don’t. They stop listening. To have your audience stop listening should never be the goal of any presentation.

If there is anything that frustrates me, this is it.

Just stop the madness.

I thank you and your audience thanks you. End of rant.