I Know This Slide is Sort of an Eye Chart… - Modern Distribution Management

Log In

I Know This Slide is Sort of an Eye Chart…

Slides that no one can read are worse than no slides at all

One of the biggest pet peeves I have with presentations is when an executive displays a PowerPoint slide that’s illegible and then excuses himself by saying, “I know this is a bit of an eye chart…”

I hate this. I use this statement when coaching teams on how to deliver great presentations. In my last corporate executive role, my whole team lived by this rule, so if an individual from another department or – heaven help him – a prospective vendor made that statement, I could feel eyes turn to look at me.

Presentations are inherently visual. Putting up a slide that your audience can’t read is akin to a DJ announcing, “You won’t be able to hear this next song at all, but here it is anyway,” followed by four minutes of silence.

I’ve done hundreds of presentations over the years. Early in my career, I, too, fell victim to presenting slides that no one could read because the content was so important. But if it’s really that important, how can you possibly allow it to be unreadable?

What’s worse is that this statement implies to your audience that you either don’t care that you’re frustrating them or you’re not smart enough to find a better way to present the material. I don’t think either of these is true, but I do think that’s the message you’re sending.

Fortunately, this is not a difficult problem to solve. If a slide is illegible, you have two practical choices:

  1. Don’t use it.
  2. Provide a printed handout to everyone in the audience and add a banner across the slide that says, “Refer to handout.”

Most of the time, you can break the slide into components that you can present in a way your audience can digest in pieces. Sometimes that means you have to re-think the idea; often the re-work has led me to better ways of telling my story.

When I absolutely must present a slide in a certain format and am pretty sure my audience won’t be able to read it, I always provide printed copies. In addition to making the content legible, it allows your audience to take notes on what is often an important concept.

Let’s keep eye charts where they belong – in optometrists’ and driver’s license offices. Business presentations are about delivering compelling and persuasive messages. Slides that no one can read are worse than no slides at all.

Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me at ian@mdm.com.

Share this article

About the Author
Recommended Reading
Leave a Reply

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for the MDM Update Newsletter

The MDM update newsletter is your best source for news and trends in the wholesale distribution industry.

Get the MDM Update Newsletter

Wholesale distribution news and trends delivered right to your inbox.

Sign-up for our free newsletter and get:

  • Up-to-date news in a quick-to-read format
  • Free access to webcasts, podcasts and live events
  • Exclusive whitepapers, research and reports
  • And more!


articles left

Want more Premium content from MDM?

Subscribe today and get:

  • New issues twice each month
  • Unlimited access to mdm.com, including 10+ years of archived data
  • Current trends analysis, market data and economic updates
  • Discounts on select store products and events

Subscribe to continue reading

MDM Premium Subscribers get:

  • Unlimited access to MDM.com
  • 1 year digital subscription, with new issues twice a month
  • Trends analysis, market data and quarterly economic updates
  • Deals on select store products and events



You have one free article remaining

Subscribe to MDM Premium to get unlimited access. Your subscription includes:

  • Two new issues a month
  • Access to 10+ years of archived data on mdm.com
  • Quarterly economic updates, trends analysis and market data
  • Store and event discounts

To continue reading, you must be an MDM Premium subscriber.

Join other distribution executives who use MDM Premium to optimize their business. Our insights and analysis help you enter the right new markets, turbocharge your sales and marketing efforts, identify business partners that help you scale, and stay ahead of your competitors.

Register for full access

By providing your email, you agree to receive announcements from us and our partners for our newsletter, events, surveys, and partner resources per MDM Terms & Conditions. You can withdraw consent at any time.

Learn More about Custom Reports

Request a Market Prospector Demo

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.