The vexing text slide

You would think that the all text slide would be the easiest kind of slide to present, but I have seen many speakers fumble them. They don't know whether to read the slide, let the audience read the slide, or speak to their separate notes which they have at the podium.

As the first bullet states, the answer of course is to do none of the above. As the second bullet implies, the only reason to have an all text slide is to display some structure to your thinking: the main points and any sub sections. If you are not trying to display a structure visually then you don't need a slide. Why make the audience read and listen at the same time? So in effect the slide is the speaker's notes. Since a presentation is a synergy between the visual and the oral, the role of the speaker is to amplify each item while they are using the pointer to show the audience which item is being addressed.

In other words the text slide should be a visual slide. It should provide a visual depiction of how you are thinking. In the example below there are four main point and two subpoints. There is also an overlay (in red) which I used after showing the initial slide.

The overlay refers back to a previous "tip," all text slides should have less than 40 words (count the title). The above slide has 30. Yes, 40 is arbitrary, but it is also a useful discipline. During the course I teach it is not uncommon for a student to present a slide with 70 or 80 words. We can always cut this down to 40, or less, without losing content. The key is remember that your voice can amplify what is on the slide. With the red overlay, this slide now has 39 words.

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