14 May 2012

The Zen of Presentations, Part 54: Worse than reading bullet points

Everyone hates it when presenters read bullet points. It is one of the most common complaints about what PowerPoint has done to presentations. We can all read faster than any presenter can speak. If there is no more information than once the presenter has written on the slide, it's excruciating to wait for them when we've already know what he is going to say.

But there is something that just might be worse than reading bullet points out loud.

Reading the title of each slide out loud.

Slide titles are often just single isolated words, or short descriptive phrases at best. Consequently, reading titles breaks the flow of your speech, and sounds completely unnatural.

“Morning, Ralph. How was your weekend?”

“Introduction. Pretty good. Got out, did some shopping.”

“What did you buy?”

“Product description. Got a deal on a new flat screen TV.”

For all their problems, bullet points usually at least resemble normal sentences. Bullet points read out might be simple and dull, but at least they’re somewhat grammatical.

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