Speaking: Get to the Point (part 2)

Last week (part 1) we took a brief look at the importance of finding the one main point of your presentation. Today we are going to go a little bit deeper and look at some different things to think about when creating your presentation or writing your speech that relate to your point.

First there is something known as the general point. This is an overarching point, like a classification of your speech. It is about what purpose your speech has. It can be:

  • To Inform
  • To Entertain
  • To Persuade
  • To Inspire

It is obviously possible to combine some of these so that you can have an entertaining and informative speech or you can have an inspiring and persuasive speech or presentation. The important thing is to be clear about what you want the purpose of your speech to be. This will allow you to choose the right words, stories, rhetorical devices etc. to achieve that goal or reach that purpose.

The other part of getting to the point is what we talked about last week, a specific point. The main takeaway from your speech, the one thing you want your audience to remember. It could also be a call to action so the one thing you want your audience to do after your speech, be it donate money, invest money, volunteer, buy your product etc.

So always decide what your general and specific purpose, goal or point is when creating your presentation or writing your speech.

Before-After: Bleed Image outside of Slide Effect

When illustrating or making a point on a slide about something that is big or tall or wide it can be a really powerful effect to bleed an image or text outside of the slide area to give the impression that there is not enough room to fit. It is just too big to fit.

Below is a Before and After showing an example of this with the word Big and an image of an Elephant. So this slide is trying to make a point about something being really big and you can clearly see how much more powerful and visual the After is for conveying that message.


Before - Big Smaller


After - Big Big

Image Credit: GlennPeb

Speaking: Get to the Point (part 1)

When writing a speech or preparing for a speech it is important to remember or realize that you can’t say it all. It is likely that you have tons of knowledge about the topic for your presentation and so much you could talk about. But it is important to keep the audience in mind and that they will not have the capacity to absorb all the information you want to give them in the time that you have been given to present or speak. Therefore you must find the one main, most important, point you want to make. What do you want your takeaway to be? The one thing you want you audience to remember after you are done. Once you decide on this you can build your speech around it and make sure that you convey that point clearly.

(part 2)

Before-After: Dont’ Look Away

When using images on your slide you can use these images to guide your viewers eyes. If you have an image with a person in it, the direction the person is looking in will guide your viewers eyes. It is important to remember when using images that they do not direct your viewers eyes away from what is important but towards it.

Below is a Before and After showing how your eyes are directed away from the text in the Before example but directed directly towards the text in the After example just by changing slightly the direction the statue is looking in. So make sure the content of your image helps to guide your viewers attention toward what’s important not away.


Slide1 - Attention Directed Away


Slide2 - Attention Directed Toward

Image Source: leilahh

Speaking: Know your audience

Before writing a speech it is useful to take a moment to think about who the speech is for, to do some research on your audience. It is like going on a trip somewhere and researching your destination so you can get the most out of your visit. When preparing your speech you want to be sure that it is tailored to fit your audience and their unique characteristics.

If you are speaking to an audience of scientists you want to make sure that your speech isn’t too simple and trivial, that it reflects their level of knowledge about the subject. If on the other hand, you are speaking to an audience of high-school kids about the same topic, you may want to use less scientific words and explain the topic in contexts they are familiar with.

Thus it is important to learn about who your audience so you can write a speech that fits their needs and meets their expectations. It will help you choose the right words, the best stories, the best structure, the most appropriate message. It will help to keep your audience engaged.

Some questions to ask are:

  • Who is in the audience?
  • What is their background?
  • What are their values?
  • Are they part of an organization? What organization?
  • What do the audience have in common?
  • How big is the audience?
  • What message for the audience?

So before you write your speech, take some time to analyze your audience and customize your message.


Here is the first SlideBlog after my re-evaluation where I decided to post less frequent SlideBlogs and hopefully more elaborate, well constructed, more informative with greater impact. I said I would post one every month so this will be SlideBlog for April, titled Water. I will post another one in about a month, in May. Please do let me know if you think I have succeeded with my goals, as stated above. I would really love your feedback on this presentation and comments on the design. Thanks.

Before-After: Shape Behind Text on Image

When using a full bleed image with text written on top or just text on top of an image, it can sometimes be difficult to obtain the necessary contrast between the image and the text. This makes it difficult to read the text.

One way to increase the legibility and contrast of the text is to place a shape (rectangle, circle, triangle etc.) between the image and the text. It can really add a nice effect if you make the shape somewhat transparent. You can use any type of shape, it all depends on the point your slide is making, the style of the presentation, the content of the image and the text. Below is a before and after where adding a rounded corner shape makes a huge difference for reading/seeing the text on the slide.


No Shape Behind Text - Before


After - Shape Behind TextImage Source: saso

Change the size of your slides

Sometimes it is necessary to change the size of the slides you are using and here is how you can do that in Microsoft PowerPoint.

A somewhat common slide format is the 16:9 format or a wide-screen format. This can be useful for presentations in very large audiences, in big rooms with big projector screens. The typical size is a 4:3 size. The numbers refer to the aspect ratio of width to height of the slide.

So the way to do this in PowerPoint 2010 is to go to the Design tab, then click on Page Setup

Design Page-Setup

The following window will appear:

Page Setup Window

There are already many options created for you in the drop-down list or you can create your own custom size by directly inputting the size in the width and height boxes.

Page Setup Window w Drop Down Expanded