Thursday, February 08, 2007

Five Ways to Reduce PowerPoint Overload

It’s happened to everyone at one time or another: you’ve started a new PowerPoint presentation and the first thing you see is the dreaded blank slide. You may not be 100% sure how to start, but you’re pretty sure something should be on it.

A blank slide tends to invite the urge to fill it with as much information as possible, and before you know it things have gotten out of hand. What can you do during the design process to make sure you don’t overload your audience with information? In their article Five Ways to Reduce PowerPoint Overload, Cliff Atkinson and Richard E. Mayer discuss ways of overcoming this common occurrence:

I. Write a clear headline that explains the main idea of every slide. Rather than providing a title for your slides, consider using a more conversational headline.

II. Break your story into digestible bites using the Slide Sorter view. The Slide Sorter view allows you to see your entire presentation at a glance. Look for consistency in the amount of information on each page — you will be able to immediately spot slides that are overcrowded.

III. Reduce visual load by moving text off-screen and narrating the content. Too much text on a slide will force your audience to read everything (whether they comprehend it all or not). Keep text on slides to a minimum, and use the Notes Page view to type out the details in a narrative form. This not only allows you to print out comprehensive handouts, but it allows you to organize your thoughts and reduce dependency on notes during a presentation.

IV. Use visuals with your words, instead of words alone. A slide full of text is not as effective as a slide with text and images.

V. Rigorously remove every element that does not support the main idea. Too much of anything on a slide will overwhelm your audience — keep things as simple as possible, and rely on your own knowledge and narration as the focal point of a presentation or lecture.

You can read the full article here. If you have any information or tips to share regarding this topic please post in the comments area below.

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