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Slides with Pictures and One or Two Words – Not Only Does It Look Better… It Works Better!


I did a presentation called “Connecting the Dots through Stories” for the Greater Atlanta Chapter of ASTD.  The presentation was geared around helping trainers find and use more stories in their training.  After the presentation, I was approached by a training manager from a large Atlanta-based company.  She didn’t ask me about the storytelling topic.  Instead she asked me how I developed my slides.




Creating Great Slides

When that training manager asked me about how I developed my slides, I recommended Garr Reynolds’ book Presentation Zen and she quickly wrote down the title and author.  She commented that her VP of Learning wanted the training department to stop doing slides with lots of bullet points and instead do their PowerPoint slides “more like Steve Jobs.”  When she saw my slides, she thought of her VP’s direction.  A few weeks later, she called me and asked if I had a training program to teach people how to do their slides like Steve Jobs’.  The two training sessions I did for the department were well received.


The Slides that Inspired the Question:  How Did You Develop Those Slides?

Below is a sample of some of the slides from the Connecting the Dots through Stories presentation.  What do you think of the approach?

I knew when I saw my first presentations using the approach recommended in Presentation Zen, I liked the slides much better than the bullet point slides that I’d seen in business presentations and training classes.   Once I started applying the principles to my speeches and training, the feedback was extremely positive.  And while I love the beauty of this approach to slides, what really excites me is that research shows it’s actually better for the learner!

The Science behind the Approach

In a 2008 article published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, Richard E. Mayer and Cheryl I. Johnson of the University of California, Santa Barbara, discuss research which demonstrates a good scientific reason to take this approach.  In studies, students retained information longer and were able to apply the information in other circumstances better when the instructor supplemented an oral presentation with pictures and one or two key words rather than with no pictures or with slides polluted with text.  Not only does eliminating bullet points feel better!  It helps the learner retain the information better and aids in applying the same information under different circumstances!  How cool is that!

Free Yourself of the Bullet Points!

Break the mold!  Stop using the bullet point default in PowerPoint that we all learned.  Create slides of beauty.  Your audience will appreciate the break from bullet points, but more importantly, they’ll retain and use your information better!





  1. […] Give each new idea its own slide and add visuals to increase the appearance and make the slide more memorable. See this blog post for more details. […]