The Slide Deck ‘Conundrum’ – Speaking with ‘clean’ slides but having to send a detailed deck in advance

The slide deck when presenting - Janice Haywood coach

The Slide Deck ‘Conundrum’ – Speaking with ‘clean’ slides but having to send a detailed deck in advance

You will have heard many presentation skills trainers and coaches say that if you use slides in your presentations, they need to be designed with as little text as possible, charts should be simplified and meaningful visuals should be used.

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However, many of my business clients see a problem with that. ”What if we have to send the ‘presentation’ in advance for the attendees to look at the information?” they say.

At this early point in the post, we need to remember something extremely important – the slides that you speak with serve a very different objective from the slides that participants may need to study in advance. And something else, let’s be clear here YOU are the presentation, the slides aren’t the presentation.

Here are 4 suggestions for dealing with this situation effectively:

1) Prepare two different decks. This is the most obvious solution but perhaps the most time-consuming.

2) Prepare your deck for speaking with and put all the detailed information, extra data and charts in appendix slides at the back of this deck. You can send the whole slide deck, explaining that most of the detailed information they may need to consult can be found in the appendix slides.

3) Prepare your deck for speaking with and put any extra detail in the notes section of each slide.

4) Prepare your deck for speaking with and collate all the extra information into a Word doc in the form of a pre-reading document or ‘hand-out’. It’s only the Word doc that would be sent ahead in this case.

At the end of the day, as long as the objective of supplying necessary information for the pre-presentation study is satisfied well, the people involved really shouldn’t mind how that information is given to them. What they WILL mind, is if on the day you give your presentation, you end up reading from text-heavy slides and you don’t give any added value to your spoken message.

Let me repeat what I said above, ‘YOU are the presentation, the slides aren’t the presentation’. Remember, an audience is attending a presentation to hear YOU speak. They want to hear your perspective on the topic. They want to hear and feel your energy and enthusiasm. They want to engage in a robust debate so the topic comes alive for everyone involved. Don’t defraud them by speaking with the same dense slides you may have sent in advance. Such a slide deck has been termed a ‘slideuement’ by Garr Reynolds, author of the excellent book ‘Presentation Zen’. Please, please don’t present with slideuments. The only objective you’ll achieve is the one of sending your audience to sleep.

With a little forethought, the ‘issue’ of sending detailed information in advance of your presentation without negatively impacting your delivery on the day can be easily solved. And if your presentation is to a high-stakes audience, the small amount of additional time you need to address this double-objective conundrum is worth it.

If you deliver an excellent presentation, supported by impactful slides that serve ONLY to reinforce your verbal message, you will stand out and be remembered for a lot longer than the time it took you to address the ‘slide deck conundrum´.


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My mission is to help employees in multinational companies learn the skills and techniques they need to give outstanding presentations in English and receive the visibility and recognition they deserve.

feel confident and engage with your audience Janice Haywood