Presentation slides: 4 Keys to Keeping Attention

presenting across cultures

4 Keys to good presentation slides

Creating presentation slides that summarize your points but still keep your audience’s attention isn’t easy. Ever try talking to someone who is busy reading a book? It’s not easy to get and hold their attention, is it? This is what happens when you stand up to make a presentation and your presentation slides are full of text. The audience will be splitting their attention between trying to read and trying to listen. You should keep your text to a minimum, and never just read from your presentation slides. So, to ensure that your slides support your message rather than distracting from it, here are a few tips.

1.bmp3 main points per slide, one sentence per point. If there is too much information on the slides, your audience will not be able to concentrate on what you are saying as they will be trying to read the slides.


2Slides should NEVER include paragraphs.  You are the presenter; the slides support you, not the other way around.  If you need a lot of text, you should be sending a report or email. They should not contain information that the speaker or audience needs to spend time reading.  This information can be included in the handouts.

387% of the information we process is through what we see, 9% is through what we hear and 4% is from other senses1.  If you want people to listen to what you are saying and to understand it, don’t ask them to read at the same time.  If you want them to read, perhaps you should email them a report instead.

4When you want to talk, try adding a blank slide into your presentation – they will have nothing else to look at so they’ll concentrate on you.




Your presentation slides support your message, they don’t tell the whole story for you! Let us know what has worked for you in the comments area below.

[1] Sheldon Press; Pease, Alan; “Body Language, How to read others thoughts by their gestures”

1 reply
  1. Jennie Wright
    Jennie Wright says:

    These are really good points Nathan. The best one is number two – never add paragraphs!

    I see this a lot as a teacher and these are some of the tips I give my learners to cut out the extra words:

    1. use bullet points

    2. remove articles – a, an, the – when possible

    3. Consider if the text is really your notes – if the text is acting as your notes, remove most of it and keep key terms only

    4. Follow the phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’ – don’t use words when a picture, diagram, chart, etc. can speak for you

    But watch out – don’t remove so much that your audience doesn’t understand – get someone to check them for you before your presentation.

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