Presenting Cluttered Slides

Have a deck of cluttered slides to present? It helps by calling out which part of the slide you are presenting.


When your boss gives you a deck of messy slides to present…

♬ 당 떨어지는 이 세상에 달콤한 미소를 주세요 – 정튠 Jungtune

It’s never good to have full-on cluttered slides.

Slides like these tend to turn the audience off and lose their focus even before you start presenting.

And if you can’t catch their focus and value add to the data, it should have been an email instead.

So, it’s always better to have clean focused slides with one visual or one insight per slide.

But there are times when you have no choice but to have super-packed slides like these.

There can be can be

  • Legal Reasons – these slides are cleared by the legal team to ensure all disclaimers and ommissions are in place
  • Time constraints – There’s no time to prepare a presentation-ready deck, so you just slap a bunch of screenshots
  • The deck was prepared by someone else!

So what’s the trick to presenting slides like these?

You may use a pointer (either a laser pointer or the good ol mouse pointer) to point as you are speaking

But on top of that make it a habit to Always, Always verbally refer to which part of the slide you are referring to.


Cluttered slides? You're losing the audience

Because everyone in the audience has a short attention span.

They are easily distracted by the other data shown in your very cluttered slide.

Even worse, they are distracted by their emails, and their handphones, and thinking about what to eat for lunch.

And we’ve all experienced this – once we’ve zoned out and we can’t catch on with the presenter, we continue to zone out (and figure out what we missed in the follow-up email)

Calling out different portions of the slides is useful in grabbing their attention back as it

  • Signifies a transition to something new
  • Subconsciously pulls them back
  • Saves them the trouble of figuring out where you are if they do happen to zone out earlier

Use words like

Now let’s refer to Columns 2 & 3 of this table here

In the chart on the bottom left, we can see that

The bubble chart in grey shows pre-Covid revenue while the bubble chart in Red shows post-covid revenue

Use Titles, chart types, locations, colours, and numbers to guide your audience visually.

So that you have a more productive presentation by keeping your audience’s attention, helping them focus on the right visuals and always call out which part of the cluttered slide you are going to talk about.

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