NEVER share your slides with your audience. Do THIS instead.
To understand why sharing your slides is detrimental for the success of a presentation, we need to go back to what the purpose of a presentation is.
It is to sell an idea, product or service. To win support, motivate to action or bring on board. To inform, raise awareness or teach. The list is long.
And the above are just some potential final purposes. For a first presentation, a more realistic purpose is often a smaller one, such as getting a second meeting. This time perhaps with a decision maker.
So what makes every presentation a success?
Achieving its specific purpose.
To this end, and irrespective of whether it’s the only one you will give or just one of serval steps towards a final goal, a presentation needs to tick both of the below boxes.
 It needs to sell your message to the audience in the room.
In other words, your presentation needs to show your audience the importance of what you are talking about.
It needs to drive decisions beyond the room.
For a presentation to do that, its message needs to be memorable. You also need to give the audience follow-up material that will serve as reference for checking details and/or will help them retell and sell your message and you to decision makers if an audience member is not one or if they are not the only one.
Which brings us to sharing your slides.
Slides that sell your message well in the room need to support your verbal storytelling, rather than distract from it. Slides achieve this by being rooted in how the brain processes information, i.e. they need to be brain-friendly. However, slides and the way they are used in the corporate world distract from the verbal message. I measure it regularly and 70-90% of audiences miss full sentences.
In short, the problem is too much information in the slides. (If you wish to find out why this will cause your audience to periodically turn off from listening to you, how much information in slides will not result in this detrimental effect and how to avoid this fiasco, please read this article.)
As the amount of information in brain-friendly slides will be little because most of the information will be delivered verbally they will help you sell your message well in the room but they may not be that effective in driving decisions beyond it because you won’t be there to supply the details verbally.
On the other hand, if you have more information in the slides to make them useful references beyond the room and help your audience sell your ideas, the level of detail will distract from the storytelling and your delivery in the room. It will also deny you the opportunity to connect with your audience because they will be too busy reading your slides and taking in the details in them.
What helps you in the room, hurts you beyond it. And vice versa. In other words, you can’t have your cake and eat it.
Which is what the frequent practice of using slides with too much detail for a live presentation and then sharing them as follow-up material tries to do. And thus fails to live up to the full potential of both the face-to-face and the extended storytelling.
What is the solution?
Have two cakes — documents.
One should be a brain-friendly slide deck that will be used in the room for the live audience.
The other document should contain more detail (more text, graphs, tables if necessary) because it will be studied later and/or will support an audience member in selling your ideas and you to decision makers. This document does not need to be in the form of slides, though it can. It could also be an infographic, for example. What is important is that it tells the same story you told with your brain-friendly slides in the room.
This way, your slides will add value to your message during the presentation and your follow-up document will do the same long after it.
Having two documents is of course more work. But not necessarily as much as you think. And very often it is worth it. Because what are the best ideas, products and services worth if people don’t buy them in the room and if they don’t sell the idea beyond it too?
How to make a follow-up document from a brain-friendly slide deck will be the topic of the next article.
I will be exploring issues related to brain-friendly slides in detail in my Brain-Friendly Slides workshop at the Munich Creative Business Week on 9th March. Hope to see you there.