Write slides that help you say “this is”
The slides *are* the speaker notes

My friend Andrew Eberlin presenting a 'this is' slide

I’ve written before about how presentations are made of two ingredients: the stuff on your slides, and the stuff that comes out of your mouth.

When you’re writing your slides, you can create them in such a way that they help you remember what to say with your mouth. Each slide triggers a little story in your head, which you already know off by heart without having to learn it.

The best way to do this magic trick is to try and make slides that you can easily point at (literally, with your finger) and say: “This is…”

That way, each slide becomes a mini-story that you tell within the frame of your wider presentation. The slide is something mostly visual - a picture, a graph, a screenshot, a quote, whatever - that does two jobs simultaneously:

  1. It acts as an illustration of what you’re saying, helping the audience pay attention to the stuff coming out of your mouth with their ears, while still having something to look at with their eyes (people like looking at things with their eyes)
  2. It acts as a reminder to you, the presenter. Your job at this point in the presentation is to tell the audience what this thing is. The slides become the speaker notes.

Keep this in mind when you’re putting the slides together. What “This is…” could you say for each one?

…and so on. “This is…” slides are helpful for your audience, because they illustrate the story you’re telling. And they’re helpful for you, because they act as memory-joggers. You don’t need speaker notes if you have slides that remind you what to say.

Filed under: notes
(12 Feb 2022)