February 18, 2020

Action Titles in PowerPoint: Use Your Core Message as a Slide Title

Your core message as a header: Why you should always use action titles in your PowerPoint slides

Meaningful headings, so-called “action titles”, add more weight to your statements. They summarize the core message of your slide in one sentence, so your audience can instantly grasp the key point of your slide just by reading the header.

According to eye tracking studies conducted in Western societies, an audience focuses most of its attention on the top-left corner and moves through Arnheim’s optical center to the bottom-right (Gutenberg diagram) or moves their attention in a Z or F-shape pattern.  Management consultants from the Boston Consulting Group perfected this principle and coined the term “action title” in the early nineties. The way in which we view PowerPoint slides hasn’t changed, which is why this communication principle still holds true today.

Action Titles in PowerPoint darstellen

The first thing to avoid is a generic slide title, such as Sales Development or Organizational Structure – these have little impact. Much more effective are tangible statements that support your core statement, such as Positive Sales Development in 2019 or Our Sales Increased by 15% in the Last Quarter. 

Imagine you are skimming through all your presentation slides and reading only the titles. Do your key statements and your “story” pop? If you answered yes, give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve got your action titles just right. A couple of things to avoid in action titles are long, convoluted sentences and filler words. A good action title is simple, factual and concise. Using marketing jargon can also have a negative effect on your audience. Avoid exaggerating and stick to the facts and objective of your presentation.

Sometimes subheadings can be helpful if the actual core message is too long for an effective slide title. You can also include additional information in your subheadings, such as Sales Development in Million EUR.

Advantages and Features of an Action Title:

  • Action titles are slide titles that are written to reflect the main point or core message of the slide.
  • They summarize the slide content and provide focus, so your audience doesn’t have to read through the remainder of the slide unless they want to.
  • Your title should summarize what you want to say on your slide (key message).
  • An effective action title is immediately understood and highlights your actual message.
  • Make it easy for your audience to follow you by using short and clear statements on your PowerPoint slides.
  • Use action titles that explain facts or decisions and draw the audience’s attention where you want it.
  • Based on a recent study conducted by Microsoft, oral and written communication skills are still the most sought-after skills in high-demand management positions. Using action titles correctly in PowerPoint can definitely contribute to your professional success.
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