What emotion does your slide convey?

Do you sound like Ben Stein?

Compare that to Professor Lewin’s speech below (start at about 1 minute in)

One of the critical differences is that Lewin conveys a sense of emotion.  Ben Stein actually has some good content, and is (trying!) to get some audience interaction.  However, his lifeless delivery falls flat, while Lewin’s obvious passion helps us engage with him.

After deciding on an organizing thesis for each slide, and choosing a story structure,  decide what emotion the slide should convey.

This Bill Gates slide from cio.com is a typically bad example.  Beyond violating the first two rules, can you say with confidence if what feeling the audience has (beyond wishing for their reading glasses)?

Gates is probably trying to show the scope of his services.  Good emotions for him to convey could be:

  • happiness (we’re pleased to…)
  • satisfaction (it’s been a long road, but we finally …)
  • anticipation (it’s going to be great…)
  • pride (this is amazing).

He could also choose to be self-deprecating by being:

  • embarrassed (it’s been a while, but we finally ….)
  • show a problem (we have a lot of services, but haven’t connected them well).

If he decided that this was a happy slide, Mr. Gates could try to convey more enthusiasm, smile more, and make larger gestures.  If he wanted to be embarrassed, he could hunch a bit, look abashed, and moderate his gestures.

A second example slide from the cio article is below.  This slide is overly cluttered, but it isn’t immediately obvious how we are a supposed to feel about this visit.

One immediate way to improve the slide would be to change the title to a strong declarative sentence, such as “Fantastic Results from Beijing.”  In giving the presentation, the speaker could decide in advanced to convey their sense of wonder a the different things in China, or a sense of awe at the history.

If you want a slide to fall flat, hope for the panic of being in front of a crowd to bring your material to life.  Unfortunately, you’ll probably end up more like Stein than Lewin.

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