As I took a seat at the gate in the Las Vegas airport, I noticed another passenger making a PowerPoint presentation. It had a lot of text. A lot. I came very close to asking her if I could give her a little feedback.
The next day, I found myself needing some slides from a presentation I had missed. I hoped the slides would have a lot of text so I could figure out what the presentation was about. Could I be a hypocrite on this issue? It made me do some soul-searching.
The slides from the presentation I missed were quite helpful. There were statistics and formulas to calculate various metrics. It was like the CliffsNotes version of the presentation. I got the jist of it without needing to attend the session.
Without needing to attend the session.
I didn’t have to attend the session. I didn’t have to spend 75 minutes of my life in that session. I didn’t have to pay $1500 to attend the conference (plus $600 in airfare and hotel costs, plus meals).
These slides were a great resource. Since I didn’t attend this particular session, I can’t comment on the delivery. But in instances like this, when the slides seem to become the presentation, I do wonder what value the presenter adds. What value do I get from attending in person? It’s almost like the slides in presentations like this serve as the annoying little sibling, mimicking everything the presenter has to say. (And in some cases, the presenter seems more like the annoying sibling, mimicking the slides!)
The best presentations I’ve ever seen are the ones where the slides complement the presentation, like back-up singers providing harmony to an amazing vocalist. These presentations have slides that include one mindblowing statistic, or a funny image (and no text).
What do you think? What role should slides play? How much text is too much?
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