Michelle Bowden

What NOT to do! Don’t make your slide text-heavy!

The average slide has 50 words on it. We know from the science of NLP that the conscious mind can only remember seven, plus or minus two. That’s between 5 and 9 things. So, at best your text-heavy slides are confusing, at worst they are actually stopping your audience from understanding your key messages. It’s called cognitive overload.


What should you do instead?

1. Replace words with beautiful, memorable images. Remember a picture speaks a thousand words. You could use www.unsplash.com if you want free gorgeous images for your slides.

2. Eliminate bullet point slides. Turn three bullet points into three slides – each with a picture that bleeds to the edge of the screen. It will be much more memorable than three bullet points could ever be.

3. Use simple graphs and charts to display data. This may mean you need to create the graphs yourself rather than importing them from another document. Only reproduce the key information on graphs.

4. Use a yellow circle or a stylish build if you want the audience to focus on something on a busy slide. i.e. “You can see in the yellow circle that….”

5. Keep your fonts to a minimum of 30pt. If they are any smaller, the audience probably can’t read them.

6. Take all the file recovery details (you know, michellesfiles/admin/articleonslides!!!!) and page numbers off the bottom of the slide. These details are internal references that your audience doesn’t need to see. The detail-focused people spend time trying to read those tiny things on the bottom of your slides, so give them a break and take it off!

7. I’m often quoted as saying, “If they can’t see it, don’t show it!” Please remember my wise words!


Note: This might mean you have two copies of your information. One is the busy slide deck with lots of words, small graphs and charts, and many appendices; the other is the calm, clean version of your busy pack. It just shows the key points on the slide – the points you want your audience to remember.


Makes sense doesn’t it? Happy Presenting!


© Michelle Bowden 2020.  Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au

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