Recently, while delivering a presentation at a workshop, I had a brainstorm on how to redesign a single slide so it would be more effective. That evening, I spent 2 hours creating the new and improved slide.
I proudly showed my new creation at the next session of the workshop. Attendees viewed the original slide a week earlier. I wanted to gain feedback while demonstrating the proper process for slide testing. I explained the intended message as we reviewed the original and the new, improved slide. During the ensuing discussion, I was politely informed that the new slide did not carry the impact of the original graphic. Participants suggested ways to modify my new slide to make it more effective, or at least make it work. I went back to my computer and at the next session I presented the revised slide and again asked for feedback. The unanimous response was my original slide was the most effective at conveying my point.
While I admit being disappointed with the response, the experience highlights the value of field testing slides.
Two ways to evaluate your slides
I evaluate my slides in one of two methods: The easiest method is to simply look at the slide myself and
see what I think. The other method is to show the slide to another person and see what they get out of it. The first method is by far easier and it takes little time or effort. The drawback is that I am testing the slide on some one that already knows what I am trying to say (that would be me), so I already know that I understand it. What I gain in ease is lost in effectiveness, as my workshop attendees demonstrated.
The second method is harder, requires more time and effort, but provides better information. This method is especially useful if the slide is tested on a member of my target audience.
The best method for you depends on the slide and how important it is to get your message across.
Who is the expert: Me or my audience?
Going back to my experience, using the first method of slide evaluation was my easy choice. I was very proud of my new creation as it was visually pleasing, simple, yet included cool animations. It fit my branding very well, an added bonus. It was also inferior at making my point. The second method of evaluation was more difficult – it involved communicating with people and LISTENING to their words, even when I did not want to hear what they had to say.
I am back to using my original slide. It is simple, easy to understand, and most importantly – effective. It says to the audience what I want them to learn.
While it may appear I netted zero for my effort, the reality is I learned a lot. It reinforced the value of listening and demonstrated clearly the process I follow works.
I will keep my new slide. Maybe I can use it elsewhere.
iSpeakEASY offers workshops on effective use of visual aids (including PowerPoint). Click HERE for information.
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