About a year ago, I SlideShared some simple guidelines on how to create more effective slides using a primarily visual approach. This has proved to be a popular slideshow, with over 33,000 views and 59 embeds in blogs around the ‘sphere.

The piece is part of a much larger, 2-day seminar on presentation skills and, as you can imagine, I am constantly adding to it and fiddling with it according to the demands and feedback of the various audiences with whom I work.

Here then is an updated version of the presentation, which brings total views of the two versions of the preso to over 42,000:

RSS Readers may need to click through to the post.

I found it interesting that the one piece of feedback I get from SlideShare and embeds is feedback that I never get when I present the piece live – its length. In a blog from a very interesting Physics class in New York, the teacher, Zhanna Glazenburg put up my piece and a number of others and asked her students to vote. Mine won, but it was fascinating to see how many of the students were bothered by the number of slides; something that no audience ever seems to notice when I present it live. I just checked the properties on the current version (with all the drop-in commentary text boxes) and it only has 1,080 words. People see the 128 slide count on SlideShare and automatically panic, but it only takes 5 minutes to zoom through the slides online. [I usually take 8-10 minutes to present it in person.]

Clearly the idea of length, the expectation of a lot of reading, is off-putting to a young audience today. And yet the majority of business and academic presentations that I sit through still follow the Headline / Bullet / Bullet / Bullet model. We’ve always known that people don’t want to read in the presentation or lecture environment. We now know that people can’t read-and-listen at the same time and yet there they are – row after row of shiny bullets in presentation after presentation.

“Gimme a D! Gimme a U! Gimme an H! Put ’em all together and what have you got? …”

If I may put my teacher hat on for a moment: “Considerable room for improvement” is the score I would be awarding most frequently for the PowerPoints I suffer through. Come on folks, don’t tell me that you don’t still hanker after a gold star …

Thoughts, comments, amendments, and reality-checks all welcomed.