I recently wrote a blog entry talking about presentation pacing when using slides and how words and pictures together create a more effective audience experience than either alone.
Yesterday Garr Reynolds expanded on this theme in his always excellent Presentation Zen blog. He points out that the reason so many professionals deride presentation software such as PowerPoint is that the vast majority of speakers use the software tocreate poor presentations.
Researchers have done tests showing that audience members exhibit less interest, comprehension, and retention when shown text that is also read aloud to them. Yet this is still the most common presentation style in public webinars... Slide after slide of text-laden bullet points that are read to the audience by the speaker.
At the same time, the use of visual and auditory channels to communicate with an audience has been shown to improve their memory if the two aspects are not redundant.
It is harder work and takes more time to build a presentation with graphics that support your topic points. It also takes more practice to deliver a presentation when you don't have your speech written out for you on each slide. And yet, this is what you must strive for if you want to create a quality experience for your audience that achieves your goals of imparting information, stimulating action, or building consensus.
Tomorrow (Thursday, April 12) I'll be giving a free public webinar on how to improve your online presentation skills. Take a look at my slides and you will see that they have precious little text. Usually just a topic title and a graphic image. People always ask for copies of the slides and I'm fine with handing them out. But honestly, they're not very valuable without the speech that explains and elaborates each topic point. Do I feel guilty about this? Not at all. A presentation is a combined audio and visualexperience. If you want to learn from my presentation, come attend. If you want a formal reference work that you can study and distribute to others, buy a book. Both are valuable, but they are created for different purposes.
By the way, if you're interested in seeing the presentation, you can register at www.EffectiveWebinars.com. I'm speaking at 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern (US Daylight Saving Times). If you want to check the time equivalent in other areas, you can click through to TimeAndDate.com.