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Less Is More: Reduce Wordiness in Your Presentations

In the classic composition textbook, Elements of Style, its authors Strunk and White remind us, “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences . . . This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.” Every word tell—every word should be working to earn its keep.

The simpler you can make your presentation slides the more your audience will grasp the meaning and retain the key information. We cannot listen and read simultaneously. So, if there is a lot of text on your slides, your audience will be too busy reading it to listen to you and your meaning will be lost.

But what can you do if there is so much information on your page, and you are tasked with making a presentation? Here are some tips from DeckRobot to reduce the text density on your slides in order to make your presentation a good one.


Have only crucial text on the slides

A very obvious but crucial piece of advice is to include in your slides only the text that really matters. Crowded slides can confuse and overwhelm your audience. Unless your point is immediately clear, you’ll struggle to keep their attention. Cut out waffle words, reducing content to the essentials (review your content 2 or 3 times to reduce it). Aim to summarise without losing any of your meaning.


Rank your arguments

Very often presentations are made to substantiate points and give proof to investors/students. Here, one can get carried away into citing as many proofs as come to mind, thinking it might help the case.

When it comes to arguments, choose quality over quantity. When looking to eliminate text, rank your arguments from the best to the worst and only keep the top few (3-4). By ranking the importance of the arguments you can eliminate ones that aren’t as important as others, keeping the presentation strong while removing large portions of writing.


Don’t start sentences with “there is,” “there are,” or “it is.”

These phrases should go off like a warning bell, alerting you to change your sentence structure. In the example below, simply changing word structure can cut your sentence word count by more than half.

WORDY: There are several tips listed in this article that will help you to reduce wordiness in your presentations.

CONCISE: Reduce wordiness in your presentations by following these tips.


Use slide headings as a summary message

Put your key message for each slide into the header for that slide. Think about the one key point you want the audience to take from each slide. Make these headers short, clean, impactful, and pithy.


Use grids to make it appear like less text

Dodge the bullet. It’s been several times already that we have mentioned that presentations with bullet points just don’t cut it anymore in the fast-paced, innovative, and multimedia world. Pull the text from each bullet out into a separate shape and use some cool colors and fonts, distributing the raws and columns evenly across the available space. You may still have the same amount of text, but it won’t look like it!

Tip: With DeckRobot you can perform this task in a few minutes. In slides that are agenda-type with several rows and columns you always can add more. All you need is just to select a specific area where you want the row or the column to be added. The plugin will automatically add rows and columns to the area you want.


Communicate graphically by visualizing data

If you are communicating a bunch of facts and figures, use this information to build some simple charts and graphics, then you can take out most of the text! Limited text combined with an appropriate image, icon, or infographic instantly becomes more memorable. These visual aids to memory should be simple and direct. They should help to create a narrative that will build connections between information.

Tip: With DeckRobot ‘Corporate Icons’ function you can easily apply corporate icons to the slide. Also, you can use the ones found on the Internet. DeckRobot will analyze the objects with and offer options to adapt icons to the corporate-approved format. This will give your presentation an even more appealing look and save loads of time.


Say it out loud

Another great technique is to read your presentation out loud. If you are practicing your speech and you find that you are consistently tripping upon a sentence, that’s probably a clue that it is too wordy. You can break it into two smaller sentences or reword it. You can use longer, more complex sentences with writing because the reader can slow down or re-read as needed. But with speaking, keep sentences short and simple since the audience has to catch the meaning right away.


Conclusion

Using these 7 tips, you are ready to reduce the word clutter in your presentations. Keep what matters by cutting off what repeats, dilutes, or distracts. When you do, your presentation will not only be shorter, it will have more impact and clarity.