Phew. Been working my way through a pile of presentations from various people, mostly about social media. There’s lots of good stuff in there and I’ve learnt a lot from the sharing culture people have about their presentations these days.
But I also need to let you into a little secret. Well, a secret if you haven’t yet read the headline to this post…
You see, I’m starting to pine for slides with bullet points.
Bullet point lists used to have their uses. In fact, they still do, particularly in printed texts. But in presentation slides, they got so heavily over-used and so badly used (tiny fonts, too much text per bullet point and so on) that they went decidedly out of fashion amongst people who like to try to keep their slides at the forefront of good practice.
In came slides with big photos and minimal text. The tide of fashion has turned so strongly against bullet points that now it’s common to hear people joke about how they’re sorry for having included two bullet points in their forthcoming presentation.
So far, so good. In its place has come the fashion for big photos, minimal text. That’s a good approach and one I like and try to use myself.
Guy Kawasaki’s rule of thumb – 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point minimum font size is a good one to aspire to, though like any such rule there are occasions when it should be broken.
But with the spread of this style of slide design comes the inevitable problems of more and more people using it without really getting the reasoning or how to do it well.
So in amongst the presentations I’ve just waded through are plenty with big pictures and few words. But the pictures only have a loose association with the words – rather than adding a memorable and emotional angle to the words. The words are often hard to read – not standing out clearly from the photograph background, not using a well-chosen font and not phrased tightly and succinctly.
The text in a grey box to make it stand out from a graphic that was, er…, full of grey was alas not the rare exception it should be.
Looking at some, I just think “Axe the photo, stick in the default PowerPoint bullet style and you know what? It’d be easier to read and more memorable.”