If you want to deliver the most inspiring and motivating presentation possible, then your best choice is to use no slides at all. Doing so allows your audience to keep their eyes on you at all times and to use the visual portion of their brain to imagine how they will apply the amazing advice you are giving.
The second best choice is to draw a simple picture. My personal favorite example is Simon Sinek’s TEDxPugetSound presentation from 2009. At exactly two minutes into his eighteen minute talk, Simon walks to a flip chart, picks up a marker, and draws his famous Golden Circle. Imagine a target with three concentric circles. “WHY” is in the bull’s eye. “HOW” is in the middle circle. In the outer circle is “WHAT.” This simple drawing illustrates how great leaders inspire and how exceptional companies thrive.
Here are some simple public speaking tips for drawing during your presentation:
Tip #1: Make Your Drawings Simple
You do not need to be a great artist to pull this off. Just make your drawing simple, obvious, and legible. Make your text and figures as large as possible.
Tip #2: Pause While Drawing
One of the rules of public speaking is to never turn your back to your audience. There is no way to follow this rule when you draw. If you are drawing on a flip chart, your head is going to be turned away even if you manage to position the rest of your body sideways. Stop speaking while drawing. Your audience will not even notice that you stopped speaking since they will be concentrating on the picture being created.
Tip 3: Draw One Picture Only
Many speakers make the mistake of drawing or writing too much. The audience does not need you to take notes for them. Your entire talk should have one central theme and the one figure you draw should completely express your core message.
Tip 4: Draw In Pieces
Since you will not be speaking while drawing (see Tip #2), you do not want to draw too much at any one time. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk referenced above, he actually draws out the entire why/how/what Golden Circle all at once. A better way to do this would have been to first draw the the three concentric circles but hold back on the text. Then, he could have written just “WHY” and expanded on that. He could have done the same thing for “HOW” and “WHAT” until the entire drawing was complete.
Tip 5: Remember To Put Your Pen Down When Not Drawing
This one is self-explanatory but you would be surprised at how many speakers hold onto their pen like Linus holding his security blanket.
Tip 6: Hide Your Drawing When You Do Not Need It
For as much good as the drawing does to create a visual representation of your core message, its mere existence takes your audience’s attention away from you. If you are using a flip chart, create your drawing on the second page so you can hide it with a blank first page. If you are using a whiteboard, there is not much you can do. This is the same concept that applies to using the “B” key to blank your slides in PowerPoint and to hiding props when not in use.
Tip 7: Do Not Draw And Use Slides
In speaking, there is such as thing as ‘too much of a good thing.’ Either draw or use slides. Trying to do both is clumsy and suggests that you forgot to put something into a slide.
Try It Out!
Outside of using no slides at all, drawing is one of the most powerful techniques you can use to reinforce your core message. Next time you speak, come up with a simple graphic that you can use to gradually reveal the key points of your talk.