What’s the use of slides?

Given the criticism from everywhere concerning PowerPoint, the question is legitimate. It’s obvious that the vast majority of projected slides are unnecessary and that many presentations aren’t worth our time. But the unconditional criticism of all presentations is unfair. Not making any slides on the pretext that some presentations are boring, is like refusing to use a hammer to drive in a nail on the pretext that you may hit a finger. Two solutions: stop hammering nails? Or learn to use a hammer?

Slides have a utility. With the speaker they form what we call a magic duo: the human/image alliance. Before explaining the use of slides, it’s important to re-give them meaning. We are constantly subjected to an enormous flow of information and we know that the rate of memorization is low. We generally consider that after three days, between what was said and what was heard, understood and memorized, less than 5% of the original message remains.

The challenge of a presentation is not to add a layer of additional information, but rather to control what will remain of your message after three days. This is the role of the slides: to anchor what needs to be memorized in your remarks. This way you’ll fully make use of the impact of the images that have a seven times stronger effect on memorization than words. The advice we give regularly, to simplify your slides as much as possible, is not just a design principle. It allows you to prioritize the information you will display in order to differentiate the slides that will participate in the narration or explanation and those that must leave a strong impact.

The secondary role of slides is to capture and hold attention. Indeed, always with the goal of optimizing memorization, it is vital to maintain an optimal listening level. But, slides are more often created to carry the notes of the speaker. Where an image or a few words would have sufficed, we find entire lists of arguments and demonstrations supported by figures.  This is the reflex that drives us to criticize a powerful tool that can ensure the success of your presentations. Slides or no slides, a question still remains: what will you remember of this tip?