In his comment to this blog, Jim Rait made the following quote that I thought was really appropriate: “You know you’ve achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.”
What this quote implies is that less is more. It addresses the issue of simplicity in design which can quite easily carry over to presentations. Is there such a thing as a perfect presentation? I think not. A lot of people think of a perfect presentation as one that has the right gestures, the right tone and the proper pacing.
The two main criteria of a near-perfect presentation are these: It conveys carries the conversation to the audience or it convinces the audience to either buy or accept something or it conveys an idea. Those are the two reasons that we make presentations. And the key to such a presentation is to keep it simple. Yes, less is more. A lot of speakers make the fatal errors of wanting to tell the audience everything about the topic. That’s why they jammed all that information onto a single slide. They feel that if they leave something out somebody will challenge them. They feel that they need to cover all the bases. They are trying to prove to the audience how knowledgeable they are. That approach is all wrong.
What you want to do is to cover the key points that you want to convey to the audience. Many people say that you should have only three points in a presentation. That’s nonsense. You should have as many points as you need to make but not so many that you overwhelm the audience. For example, if you’re making a presentation on the Ten Commandments, you make 10 points – not three.