Minimalist vs. Detailed Slides
Many experienced presenters are strong advocates of a clean and simple approach to presentation slides. They believe overloaded slides distract from the topic and confuse the audience. What’s most important to managers like Steve Jobs, one of the best known proponents of minimalist presentations, is clarity. Single images combined with one or two words – if any – are enough to convey the core message of a slide.
Minimalist slides do offer many advantages:
- They make it easier for an audience to stay focused and not get distracted by content-heavy slides.
- An audience is forced to listen because not all the information is on the slide.
- Minimalist slides also allow for a more dynamic presentation design. The reduced amount of information per slide allows for faster transitioning, which helps to maintain the audience’s attention and creates a more engaging narrative arc.
But can ultra-minimalist slides be “too much”? Can we take this design principle too far? Slide content is, in fact, very important:
- Visuals (text, images and graphics) are processed much faster than spoken content. They act as visual anchors in a presentation and help clarify content.
- A presentation can be provided as a handout and read separately. This helps the audience prepare for the presentation or gives them the option to look up content later.
So what’s the best option? How about both? To enjoy the advantages both approaches have to offer, we recommend creating two sets of slides. The first set of slides (also called a deck) should contain slides with minimal content and should be used for the presentation itself. The audience can then concentrate on what is being said and is much more likely to understand key terms. The second deck should expand on the first deck with more text and additional information. It can then be distributed to the audience after the presentation, providing a reference and basis for further discussion.
Adding additional text to minimalist slides is easy, meaning very little extra effort is required. Before you know it, you’ve got the best of both worlds.
Try this approach for your next presentation and see for yourself how effective it can be!