Stan Schutzbank Slide System
So I find myself presenting often these days, and making lots and lots of slide. My father, the eponymous Stan Schutzbank, warned me this would happen to me as it happened to him. Except he used to do it in the $3-per-physical-slide-better-get-it-right era. I remember opening up our practice screen and gleefully helping him install the slide carousel as he would practice his most important presentations with his family. In some ways, presentation is our family business. Other people learn how to build tables, install furniture, mow the lawn. I learned how to present in the...
Stan Schutzbank Slide System
What is the purpose of your talk?
Why are you presenting? Are you there to teach or to guide a group to a decision? Do you need to lead them to a specific decision (sales) or just ensure one is made? What must your audience know before they leave the room. Put your important points first, repeat them often and repeat them often.
Remember your tortured audience.
No one really wants to hear your presentation, so remembering your audience matters. They aren’t really paying attention either, they are thinking about lunch, or if they left the stove on, or who they should be talking to, or a million other more interesting things than you. Plus phones…
Are they forced to be in the room or there voluntarily? Large or small? Are they visual, auditory, kinesthetic? Comfortable room, uncomfortable room? What time of day is your presentation? Hungry? Sleepy? Tired? Bored? Overwhelmed? Keep this in mind as you craft your presentation and match your flow of ideas and energy to what you expect in the room.
You are the presentation, not the slides.
When it comes to the creation of any presentation, you should assume that they are designed to be presented. Your words, gestures and stories, should do more than half of the communication, leaving the slides to be light. Let the slides guide the conversation, reinforce main concepts, provide figures, explanations of terms and acronyms. No walls of text.
Note: If your presentation slide deck is meant to be a "leave behind" that has to be a self-sufficient document, consider making an actual handout as the flow works more seamlessly and you can take time and words to express ideas more completely. Your audience may be handcuffed to slides, free them from this prison.
Now to the slides themselves:
If you have a background and color template to follow, use it. If not, KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid)! Simple is better-- busy logos, busy colors and busy slides distract from your message.
Avoid letting text wrap to the next line. It confuses your audience and will trip you up.
When in doubt...
Break up sentences into bullets
One idea per slide and be sure drive it home
Organize your points visually to convey this one point.
Limit abbreviations and always define them the first time with an asterisk and footnote.
Use animations sparingly, and only to convey motion and flow
Always consider how your animations will print-- overlays are unintelligible
Slide transitions are rarely called for and add little.
Video and Audio are unreliable, if you MUST, test, test, test.
Pictures are incredibly powerful, but only powerful to teach/instruct, not as art.
Never apologize for a chart being too small. Either make it bigger, cut it up, or don't use it.
Appendix: Make slides you might need (usually with data), but save them for requests. You will look incredibly well prepared.