Don’t read off of your slide deck during live events

Welcome to the “What NOT to Do When Building an Online Community!”  In this article, we cover one of the worst mistakes an instructor, speaker or presenter can ever make:
Don't read off of your slide deck during live events.
I've spent some time with notable public speakers who do both in-person events as well as online-based events.  When they were asked what irritated them the most in their industry, one of the top three answers was: a presenter who read the content, word-for-word, from their slide deck presentation.  In fact, there have been online surveys where this answer was considered the #1 “violation.”  As much as I wasn't surprised by this answer, I was surprised at the expressed emotions from many of them.  This wasn't something they found acceptable whatsoever.
The reason why the reaction was so strong was explained by one of them.  She explained that most people are able to read what was is on the screen.  Otherwise, the presenter could simply manage the screen and then change the slides without saying anything!  Instead, this speaker shared that it was the content shared that wasn't in the slide deck that made all the difference.
Even though the top-notch presenters and speakers know better than to read off their slides, it's not an insight that seems to be openly shared with instructors and course writers.  There are too many situations where instructors, especially college professors, who find it perfectly fine to read the content from their slides for their tuition-paying students who are working for a diploma.  But it's not a good practice when you are presenting to the public who may feel like they can come and go – mostly go – when it comes to an event.
That's not to say that you can't read key points off of your slides.  If those points are very important, and they should be important, then share them with your audience.  But make a point to use those key points to build more understanding and awareness with supporting points.  Give your audience a compelling reason to listen carefully and to take notes.
Do yourself a favor as a presenter.  Clarify your content and make your slide decks as clear, concise and thought-provoking as possible.  Then write a script of content which you will share as you go through your presentation, including some spoken content which is not going to be written on the screen.  Not only will you provide something fresh and engaging, it will keep your audience engaged as they realize you're adding value to what is on the screen – and not just restating it.
Need additional help with your slide deck?  Let us help you!  Email us at and post your basic question in your topic line.  We'd love to help you!

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