I’m reading Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds at the moment. In the beginning of the book, there’s a short text by Seth Godin where he says: “No more than six words on a slide. EVER. There is no presentation so complex that this rule needs to be broken”.
Let’s call this the “6 words per slide rule”. I think this is an excellent rule as we cannot read and listen at the same time. And when we attend a presentation, we are there to listen.
This post is a challenge to you: in your next presentation, try not to make a single slide with more than 6 words.
If you need the information on your slide, then be creative. Use images, make drawings, or maybe you can think of something even better (if you do, please share it).
If you decide that the “6 words per slide rule” is not for you, then try to be quiet for a while when you show a text-heavy slide. Let the audience read it (they will probably read it anyway instead of listening if you talk while it’s showing). When the time is done, then remove the text and continue talking.
Cal Newport has a talk on YouTube, where he uses the text-slide combined with silence excellently. He even gets laughs from the audience, while he’s standing silently and they are reading. You can see it here.
But I encourage the text-free slide in most cases. Standing silently as a presenter is not easy, and we are there to listen.
Good luck with making a text-free presentation!