If you want your communication to be coherent, find your center of gravity.
Whenever I look at a PowerPoint presentation for the first time, I go to Slide Sorter view to get the lay of the land: Can I see a clear story across the entire experience? Then I’ll shift to Notes Page view: Are the projected visuals and spoken words planned together? And last I’ll go to Normal view: Can I easily understand the main idea of this slide?
It’s usually the case that the answer is No to all three questions. More often than not, the presentations are very difficult to understand, packed with more text and data than anyone’s cognitive ability can process; and little if any narrative structure.
What I commonly find is that any single presentation is actually multiple presentations that are yearning to be liberated. Where we might try to load up the slides to save time by creating a one-size-fits-all presentation, we actually end up with a situation where one-size-confuses-all.
One solution to the problem is the discipline of completing Act I of your story template, which we’re discussing in a few of the presentation makeovers now underway. When you write the statements that form the headlines of the first five slides, you are making purposeful decisions that will sort, distill and structure information in a way that makes sense to your specific audience.
Completing Act I forms a center of gravity for the entire communication experience, around which your spoken words, images, story and interaction will rotate. Without Act I, there is no center of communication gravity. But with a coherent Act I, your center is solid and will ensure that the rest of your presentation unfolds in an elegant and understandable universe.