Common Presentation Mistakes: Information Overload

Here’s what an “Information Overload” slide looks like:

hard to follow presentation slide

There is too much information for an audience to process quickly. How do we handle slides like this?

Why can’t I put everything on one slide?

There’s extra pixels over there, and, I could use them for something, right? There is so much that the audience needs a long time to focus and concentrate. That’s going to take their attention away from you.

Projection is different than printed media

Projection is different than printed media. In printed media, we have time; we have the luxury in spending as much time as we need to absorb the information. We also have the resolution that allows an audience to zoom in or out. We don’t have the luxury of time and space with projected media. If we have really tiny fonts, people way in the back can’t make it out.

If you have to cram it in, it’s a document

If you have to cram it all in, it that’s your method, that’s more of a document.  If you really need to put all that in, I would ask you, should this be a handout?  Is there another way I can present this?  We’re trying to figure out what to look at, and in that process, we’re not paying attention to the message.

If everything is in there, we focus on nothing

It bears repeating: if everything is in there, we focus on nothing.

Mental traffic jam.

–Sunni Brown

Sunni Brown, who does a lot of visual business communication would say we have a mental traffic jam and all that stuff is trying to get in there and fight for our attention.

/1 Step 1: Remove anything you don’t need.

First, we want to remove anything we don’t need. Look at the slide and ask, “Is it crucial to the message? Does it need to be shown?” If so, leave it on the slide. If not, let’s find another place for it.

/2 Step 2: Break slide into multiple slides with one point per slide

The second step is break the slide into multiple slides. Including one point per slide helps your audience absorb your message and allows them to focus on the most important point.