3. Making Text Easy to Read

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Your audience must listen to you and read text on your slides at the same time. Consequently, your text must be easy to read. Here I show two helpful tips on how to accomplish this.

Lesson Notes

Techniques for easy-to-read text

- Avoid long sentences or your audience will spend more time reading than listening
- Bullets are more memorable and easier to read
- Make the text next to each bullet parallel to make it even easier to read


You may have guessed from the previous two lessons that I'm a big fan of bullet points. Many English writers consider bullet points bullets fired straight to the heart of the English language. However, in PowerPoint, long sentences are the real enemy for two reasons. Firstly, they distract an audience from the speaker because they take much longer to read than bullet points. When you're presenting a PowerPoint deck, your audience must read the slide and try to listen to you at the same time. So it's critical that you make the information on your slides as clear as possible. Secondly, long sentences are much less memorable than a discreet set of bullets. And after all, we'd like our audience to remember as much as possible from our presentation.

To show the power of bullets in action, I'm going to create a new slide called the power of bullets.

And I'm going to add a long sentence to this particular slide.

As it stands, this sentence seems okay. But let's ask ourselves two questions. What information are we trying to get across, and what's the best way to structure this message? Well, the information we're trying to convey is obvious. We should invest in this company for three reasons. So why not give each of these reasons a separate bullet? Let's reduce the height of the placeholder, and let's duplicate.

In the lower box, I'm going to separate the three points into three separate bullets. Let's add a colon, press Return, and add a bullet.

Let's navigate to where we'd like the next bullet and press Return.

And one more time for the last point. Let's do some quick formatting to capitalize the words next to the bullet.

And let's also remove the comma and the full stop.

Comparing the two different layouts, to me the second is a much clearer representation of our point. Let's see if we can improve this further by making the text after each bullet shorter and then parallel. Parallel lines of text have the same format and are very easy for an audience to read. To do this, I'm first going to remove any form of the verb in the bullets.

And I'm going to add it has to the first line.

And finally, I'll just remove the word team, and now our three bullets are in parallel.

Comparing again the longer sentence to our new bullets, for me the second is now much, much easier for our audience to read and to remember. When you're creating slides in the future and you're tempted to write long sentences, see if it's possible to split the sentence into bullets, and also make sure the bulleted text is parallel. Your audience will definitely appreciate it.


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