Treat Important Ideas Differently
This week we look at how and when to your slides in a presentation about your idea. There are few more polarizing topics, however, so let’s talk about how slides work.
Our brains are wired to process visual information, so the more that we can pair what we’re saying with what we’re showing the more effective our presentation will be. The design of your slides needs to highlight your most important points so we avoid the visual equivalent of speaking in a monotone. Your slides can help us know what’s important.
To apply this concept to Red Thread, you want to make sure your Problem, Truth Statement, and Change either have their own slides or are the only place where the slides cut out. Nothing else in the presentation should be treated the same way as those three concepts. Use the presence or absence of visuals to tell your audience that what you’re saying is important.
- How to Create a Great Opening for Your Presentation or Pitch – EP029
- Turn Your Idea Into a Keynote Presentation – EP072
- How to Change Your Audience in a Short Presentation – EP073
– Let’s say you’ve been asked to make a presentation about your idea. You are giving a talk at a conference or maybe just an update at a meeting. Should you use slides? And if so, how? That’s what we’re talking about this week on Find the Red Thread. I’m your host Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. Please remember to like and subscribe if you’re so moved.
There are few more polarizing topics than how and when to use slides. Or even to use them at all when presenting. I am generally a fan of slides simply for the reason that our brains are fans of visuals. There’s a lot of information about this, but what we can all find to be true is that the brain is wired to process visual information.
And the more that we compare what we’re saying with what we’re showing, the better. Now, we run into a problem though. Here I’m going to quote E.M. Forster. He said what is the good of the ear if it tells you the same thing as the eye. So we run into problems when we put exactly the same thing up on screen that we’re saying. Beause the minute we do that, we do not need to be there. But there are times when it makes a lot of sense to do that. And those are the times I’m going to argue that when you want to get across your most important points.
Your most important points deserve to be treated differently on screen. And there’s a couple ways to do that. But first, let’s talk about why it’s important to treat them differently on screen.
Because your brain needs help understanding that this point is more important than this one. And if visually, everything that you’re talking about is treated the same, it’s in the same size font, it either does or doesn’t use images, you’re using the same colors, whatever. If everything in your presentation on the slides is treated the same way, it’s the visual equivalent of speaking in a monotone. And we hate listening to people speak in a monotone.
And the same thing can happen with slides as well. We don’t like watching something. We’re like, “Oh yeah, here’s another slide,” because then we can just tune it out. So at the very least consider doing something different on the main points of your talk.
If you’ve used The Red Thread to build your presentation, then I would recommend that at the very least your Problem, our Idea or Truth Statement, and your Change have their own slides. And nothing else in the talk is treated the same way as those three concepts.
You could do this in two ways as I mentioned in passing earlier. The first is to make sure they are up on screen in a shortened format. Kind of think about a proverb-like format. And treated differently than anything else. So that when you say it, that is the one time where you do want it to be reinforced by what people also see.
That’s a way to tell the audience subtly, this is a really important point. And also by the way, if you’re talking to an audience that’s very socially inclined, make sure that you get a nice picture of you on stage with one of your big ideas behind you.
Now the other way to handle it is just as effective. Go to no slide at all on those really big, really important points. By going to no slide at all, you are actually using that focus of attention to your advantage. There’s nothing else for people to look at while you’re saying that important thing. So where is their attention going to go? Back to you. So by using a dark, black, or neutral slide when you deliver your big important point, you can make sure that they are paying full attention to you when you say it.
Now after that, how are you going to handle those big points, how you use slides is completely up to you. And again, you don’t have to use them at all. I tend to speak to a lot of marketing audiences and branding audiences. They tend to be socially savvy, so I tend to make sure that I have slides. Mostly because it means those slides and pictures of my presentation are much more likely to get shared. But slides are very, very personal.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is a choice. Your choice. About how to make sure that your audience is paying attention the way you want them to to you and the elements of your Red Thread and thus, to your big idea. It really comes down to, first, do you want to use slides or not? That’s a choice. And then if you’ve said, yes I do want to use slides, think about how are you going to make sure that those slides are serving your Red Thread as strongly as possible.
If you want more help or more information on that, feel free to reach out to me at tamsenwebster.com/contact. I also occasionally do one-day presentation intensives where we talk about the Red Thread method for presentations. Keep your eye open for that. As always, if you enjoyed this episode, please like, subscribe, and share. And I will see you next week.