Insights & Opinions… from the MAC4 team.

Slides Don’t Tell Stories

***NOTE TO INSPECTOR: All visible graphics are our own design, and were produced for this particular shoot.***

I attended a webinar recently that demonstrated the danger of PowerPoint. That is, PowerPoint can help you create slides, but it can’t help you tell a story.

In the webinar, each slide was well done. Not too many words per slide; one thought per slide; easy to comprehend graphics on each slide. But the verbal presentation itself was choppy and disjointed. The fact was, while the slides were individually well done, there wasn’t a story holding them together. The webinar was essentially a brain-dump of information about the webinar topic without a logical, cohesive flow. For example, one slide brought up industry trends, but those trends were never referred to during the rest of the presentation. Another slide posed questions that were never answered in the course of the webinar.

It can be tempting to create slides around a topic before you have actually outlined the story you want to tell. As you think of facts, illustrations, statistics, examples, etc. for the general topic, you create slides for them. But because you have no story, you have no way of knowing whether these slides are actually relevant to your presentation or not.

The problem is, once slides are created, it can be hard to let them go. You may find yourself trying to find a way to shoehorn in certain slides because “they’re really good slides!” They may be good slides. They may convey fantastic information. That isn’t the question. The question is, “Does this slide support this particular story that I want to tell?” If the answer is “no,” the slide should go.

Create the story first when you have a presentation to give. Decide what you want to say, how to best support what you say, and what you want listeners to do with what you say. Then create the slides. Remember, slides can only present information. Slides don’t tell stories. The story is up to you.


Author: Paula Marolewski


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