Saturday, December 24, 2005

tenet: one thought per slide

Back when I got my first product management job, I thought I had some pretty good presentation mojo. And why not? I was reasonably engaging, animated, I could work a crowd, I could think on my feet. I had a point of view, and a compelling point to make. And I thought I displayed utter command of my material by sharing volumes of source data on my slides.

But after a few years in the game, I learned that. . .that. . .

My presentations sucked. I was killing my audience with dense, impenetrable slides that stunned them into a stupor of near-mythic quality.

It's hard not to share the information you've worked so hard to find. But it's even harder to distill all this data into information, then distill it further into something that is actionable and compelling.

I've come to appreciate that creating a good presentation is a lot like creating a good stock - start with good ingredients, then boil it down. Stay on top of your seasoning, and filter out the nasty bits when you're done.

The zen master of pitch-fu, in my opinion, is Mr. Jobs - you owe it to yourself to watch one of his keynote addresses, in which you'll see him put up slides with a single word on them. Or a single graphic. Or a short phrase.

One thought per slide can be done, but only if you've got your story absolutely clean and you've mastered the flow of your pitch.

Avoid the urge to vomit on your slides. You're not Charles Dickens - paid by the point. You're writing a short story, which, as we all know, takes longer to write than a long one.

No comments: