4 Vital Questions for Every Powerpoint Slide

I am sitting in an audience at a conference.  This third speaker today started well.  He seems interesting and speaks with passion.

He is now on his seventh powerpoint slide.

Each slide is interesting and well designed.  He has worked hard to find good images and pithy quotes.

My neighbour leans in towards me.  I lean towards him.

He whispers to me.

He says: “What is this guy telling us again?”

“What is this guy telling us again?”

My neighbour fishes his iPhone out of his pocket and gets back to something that seems more important to him: reading email.

Sadly, this is a common occurrence.

The 4 Vital Questions for Every Slide

Every time you show an audience a Powerpoint slide, the audience needs you to answer 4 Vital questions:

  1. “What is this?”
  2. “What is important [for the audience]?”
  3. “What does this mean [for the audience]?”
  4. “Give me a specific example [relevant to the audience]?”

An Economic Example:


  1. “This is a graph showing the share of income going to the richest people over the period 1913 through to 2008”
  2. “It is important to note the two peaks – one in 1929 and one where we are today – here at the right edge.  These peaks show high levels of income inequality”
  3. “If we look back over history, each time a society has allowed income inequality to reach the levels that we see today – there has been a war, a revolution or a rebellion by the people against the leaders of the society”
  4. “Today we are seeing a deep lost of trust in politicians, institutions – in particular large banks and global corporates – because the current income distribution is becoming increasingly unfair to those who work, rather than those who own capital.”

Make Sure Your Slides are Relevant

If you don’t have these 4 answers in a way that is relevant for the audience, you are not serving the audience.  If you can’t answer these 4 questions, delete the slide.

If it is not adding, it subtracts.  If it is not relevant to them, it is irrelevant.

Delete the slide. Yes, delete it.

Less is more.

What are your thoughts?

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