Copyright (c) 2009 Karen Friedman

Brian Fugere and several co authors wrote a great book titled Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, a look at the frightening world of corporate speak. I would like to suggest a sequel called Why Business People Create Slides that Put You to Sleep.

You’ve seen these people. You’ve probably been in their audiences. They have 495 slides which they read to you one by one in a monotone voice with no facial expression and expect you to follow along in a font that even your ophthalmologist couldn’t translate.

For starters, most of us can read by ourselves, thank you very much. Secondly, assuming we can read, maybe the presenter should just send us the slides and spare us the presentation?

Am I being too sarcastic? Perhaps. But, I spend most of my time coaching people through presentations and critical meetings for which they’ve spent a lot of time designing and perfecting slides, but little if any time thinking through their message. Creating slides is not communicating. According to the English dictionary, communicate means to “converse”, to “impart” or to “connect”. The only thing connective about most slide shows is the plug that you stick into the socket to make the projector run.

So, what is a presenter to do?

No One Came to See a Slide Show. Before you create a single slide, think about what you want to say. What do you want people to think, do, know or feel when you’re done speaking? If the slides crashed, could you still tell the story? If your answer is no, then your message is muddled and you don’t truly own your material. Write your talk first and then create slides that reinforce what you’re saying instead of using your slides as a script.