Consulting tip: don’t read your slides

By | September 17, 2015

Last week I was a in a painful 1 hour meeting where the presenter kept reading his slides. Ouch.  Each page was like a kick to my shins.  Imagine, this is what clients see and feel when you read your PowerPoints.  Boring, and distracting.

Consultantsmind When you Read Your Slides

This is a novice mistake. The PowerPoint slides are there to help give structure to the narrative, remind you of what to say, and generally provide a visual element to your consulting story-line. Of course, it should be logically structured. Of course, it should be neatly assembled and relevant. Of course, the graphs and data should be legible, cogent, and authoritative. Of course, your deck should be good.

No, you should not read your slides.

  • People read faster than you can talk
  • It is insulting – as if don’t trust them to read it for themselves
  • Your back will be to the audience, like an awkward human carousel
  • It implies that the words on the screen is all there is. . nothing else
  • Once you start reading 1 slide, I bet you will read them all
  • You should tell stories, not read script

How to fix this bad habit:

  • Make your presentation shorter.  Cut the # of pages in 1/2
  • Ensure each page has 1-2 points only
  • Use graphs to tell the point visually, make it obvious with the analysis
  • Learn PowerPoint English (phrases, not full sentences)
  • Use numbers to drive home the point
  • Use titles to say something. .  not just chapter headers (introduction, analysis, interviews, observations, best practices).  that is BORING, and you are wasting the most valuable visual real estate on the page.  USE the titles effectively

If you are consultant who charges $250-$500 an hour, you are a pro.  You know your stuff. The client expects this.  What would you think of an actor reading his script on TV?  What would you think of a chef who repeatedly looks at the recipe?  What would you think of a pharmacist who kept looking up the answers to your pharmaceutical questions online?  Put in your 10,000 hours.  Don’t read your slides.

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5 thoughts on “Consulting tip: don’t read your slides

  1. amybeall2015

    Perfect! When helping clients put together presentations, I encourage them to think of PowerPoint as “illustrations” in a children’s book. The speech should be the compelling story which is, in turn, supported by the PPT presentation. Great post!

  2. Hannah

    Hi, great post! Can i interview you for a graduate program class project?

    1. consultantsmind Post author

      surely, it will have to be over email. if that is okay with you. If so, email questions to consultantsmind1 AT gmail.com

      I am running 2 projects, so it will take me some time to respond. thanks,

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