One idea per slide

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Assignments, Resources
Tags: , , ,

This is one of those presentation tips that sound much easier than they are – especially when you need to relate ideas or show comparisons among elements. Not impossible, though :).

Instead of trying to pack more into a slide, try to take away – reduce (excise) until you can communicate what you want to without having additional clutter on the slide. Can you keep your slides very simple, very clear, free of bullets, and constrained to one idea per slide?

Here are some examples, first from Steve Jobs. The contents of the table below are from the book “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.”

Note how little information is on each slide, and how each slide communicates only one idea:


You can see here a 60-second summary of his presentation, and take a look at the original slides (note that he goes with 4 main points, not 3, but you get the idea of keeping the number of main points small and manageable):

The slide below presents two groups of variables, but it sticks to one idea per slide (the correlation between Reading blogs and Learning.)

  1. That is the textbook I use in a class I teach, COM 315 (Speech Communication of Technical Information) this semester. It’s such an excellent text that I would recommend to anyone. I feel like the ideas presented are useful for giving presentations and beyond- and his keynotes are fantastic!

    Keeping it simple is much more difficult than it seems. It’s much easier to cram information into slides and documents, rather than scaling back- another principle the text does a good job of addressing, particularly for synthesizing large amounts of information.

  2. Mihaela says:

    Awesome, that’s a great idea to use this book for a text!

  3. korash says:

    Steve Job’s Keynote is always my goal. But sometime I think business reporting presentation is a little bit different from the academic presentation due to the contents and the audiences.

    However, the presentation we are going to do on this coming Thursday is a kind of business reporting so I will do keep our group presentation as simple as possible having wonderful speech.

    • Mihaela says:

      The contents of academic presentations are more difficult, it’s true. But it is also true that overall, in academia, we don’t make efforts to communicate clearly. It’s as if we are opaque and hard to understand we must be smarter, because we’re the only ones who know what we’re talking about!

  4. george-b says:

    I love it, and it comes at the right time too. Thank you.