*By popular demand, my edit of the example slide is below. See if you agree!*
We all broadcast messages every day: on the phone, by email and on social media. But one place people all too often neglect to check their grammar is in presentations. One of the most blatant broadcasts you can make.
Some may argue that you shouldn’t be using text in a presentation at all. While I tend to agree (it’s distracting and forces people to listen to you less intently), the reality is that text-based presentations are alive and well. Well, alive.
Consistency is key when it comes to presentations. A misplaced full stop, double space or odd font can look very unprofessional, and can draw attention away from what you’re saying. They will also reduce your credibility.
So here are my eight top tips for editing your presentation slides.
- Write your text using a word processing programme, like Microsoft Word. Check your spelling before transferring to your presentation template. Show paragraph marks and remove any double spacing.
- Ask someone else to edit your slides for you. You’ll never see all the mistakes yourself, and it’s always best to get a fresh pair of eyes on your words before you share them with the world.
- Cast your eye over the presentation. Does anything look strange? If it does, it usually is.
- Check text size, font and colour. A subtle difference on the screen will be amplified by a projector.
- Check your punctuation. Just because it’s a presentation, that doesn’t mean you can get away with missing apostrophes and commas.
- Check your bulletpoints. Do you use a full stop at the end of a bulletpoint? Then make sure all the bulletpoints in your presentation have a full stop. Don’t use full stops on one slide, then semicolons on the next. It looks like you can’t make a small decision.
- Check your use of capital letters. Have some respect for capital letters – don’t drag them out just because you want to make something look more important than it is. Capital letters should only be used at the start of a sentence, and for proper nouns. If you use them in slide headers (I wouldn’t recommend this), then use them consistently.
- Perform a sanity check. Do a test run with someone, and ask them to point out errors.
Of course, if you’re using a bright yellow background and white text all this won’t help you. There are plenty of books you can read with tips on how to make a good presentation. But whatever you do with the layout, colours and animation (gulp), make sure your text is top notch.
Here’s my edit of the slide.
- Get your grammar right – ‘you’re’ is a contraction of ‘you are’. It should be ‘your’
- If you’re planning to capitalize titles (which I wouldn’t recommend, but more on that another time), make sure they are fully capitalized
- This is in English, not German, so ‘presentation’ doesn’t need a capital letter
- In this example, we’re using semicolons at the end of each bulletpoint, so the full stop should be replaced by a semicolon
- Well done. (Although you could contract ‘does’ and ‘not’ to ‘doesn’t’, depending on the overall tone of your presentation)
- There are spaces before the first word, making it look uneven. Delete the spaces
- ‘when’ should have a lowercase ‘w’ and the additional space in front of the word should be deleted. Only one space between two words is required
- As per the rules for this example, add a semicolon at the end of the line
- This is a different size. If you want to make an impact, make it obvious – orange, bold, centred – like this it just looks like a mistake
- The full stop at the end of this line is correct. In a bulletpoint list with semicolons at the end of each point, the final point should have a full stop