I was a TV news talent coach for many years.  Some of what I have learned has become valuable for clients who are not in broadcast news.

Recently, I worked with two people on a speech for a trade show. They were having troubles winnowing information from their busy slides into something meaningful. My insight into helping them came from TV.

We called it Audio – Video referencing.

When you are watching the news, and you see the various video shots, we know that the audience’s understanding and retention of information is enhanced when the following occurs: what the audience SEES and what the audience HEARS….match.  

In other words, if the anchors are talking about a warehouse fire in San Francisco, the audience sees the warehouse fire.

However, in business presentations, slide creators dump as much information onto the slide as they can (to prove they have done their homework, or to impress the engineers who love data), and then begin talking. Meanwhile, the audience is trying to decide whether to read all of the bulletin points, look at all of the diagrams, or listen to the speaker.

This is not a good way to present.

If you don’t want to confuse your audience and if you really want your ideas to resonate, what you are saying, and what the audience sees…should be one in the same.

Just take a look at any of Steve Jobs’ presentations at MacWorld; they are a perfect example of exquisite audio-video referencing.

Ok….so your slides have already been approved.  Or, you have sent them ahead of time and you can’t change them. What do you do?

As you are preparing and practicing, go through each slide and ask yourself this: what is the most important piece of information your audience needs to know on this slide?   What is the key message or the critical takeaway?

State it. Briefly explain why it is important. Conclude.

Don’t try to address everything that is on the slide; you will lose your audience.

In the future, as you and your team are creating slides for an upcoming meeting or presentation, focus on one idea per slide.

Insert a picture/graph/chart that best supports your idea.

If you can’t come up with a visual that illustrates your point, don’t have a slide.


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