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When bullet points win – avoiding minimalist presentations

You’re not supposed to use a lot of text and bullet points in your presentations now-a-days. Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and all that. Recently, I’ve noticed that many, many tech companies like to follow this trend of lots of pictures, few words, and ideas argued simply. That’s sort of nice in a narrow keynote, but so many of these people are talking about complex things like middleware, developer frameworks, and computer stuff that begs lots of questions about features and functionality.

In many cases, when you’re at the actual technology level, you want lots of bullet-points and “burgers” – those dizzy diagrams of boxes and arrows, stacks, and layers.

For example, if you’re releasing a new development platform of some sort (like a mobile framework), it’s good to list all of the integration points you have. Detail what functionality the platform has that’s different from others. Hypervisors would be a good example. If you’re going to compete in that crowded space, you need to detail what’s new and different, not just splash up some paint an enemy, show the hero, and have some minimalist slides with three part diagrams.

Of course, you don’t want to fall too close to text overload. Obviously. But if you’re putting together a technical presentation – or even a presentation about a new release or product – don’t feel shamed into being detailed. In general, if you’re trying to make an argument, the minimalist style works best – better not to have your audience get “confused” about how awesome you are with “details.” But, if you’re giving an introduction and overview (which you should mostly be doing with even only slightly technical people, and beyond – esp. those looking to use or buy your stuff), be detailed. Your audience will want to know these details, and why not take full advantage of their time and just bullet it out?

Categories: Ideas, Marketing.

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5 Responses

  1. totaly agree, i find the nitty gritty tech oriented approach works well, especialy selling to those who have to use it.

    gabrielMay 3, 2011 @ 4:57 pm
  2. OK – I'm guilty. But a danger is that they say the audience hears 25% of what you say, when actually, they may only comprehend 10%. You need to ensure you grab the 10%.

  3. As always, there is a big difference between education and presentation and the prep that goes into, and the style and content of the two is completely different. The problem is that all too often people forget what the point of presentation is and thats where they come unstuck.

    Be an educator, be an evangelist, just don't confuse the two presentations

    cathcamMay 4, 2011 @ 1:28 pm
  4. It's actually pretty telling that Google I/O presentations are quite bulleted – they are communicating new tech details and APIs to techies. Definitely a place for both the Zen style image heavy presentation, and the wordy ones. Thanks for the reminder.

    Andy PiperMay 11, 2011 @ 6:05 am
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