5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Read From Your Slides

Let’s get one thing straight: presentation slides are meant to enhance your talk. So why do so many presenters think it’s acceptable to queue up their presentation with dozens of content-heavy slides and then read them word for word in front of their audience? If we could issue tickets for every time this occurred, Ethos3 would be the richest company in the history of the world. Still unconvinced that reading directly from a slide is criminal? Consider:

1. It’s Lazy

If you were familiar with the flow and content of your talk, you wouldn’t be reading the slides aloud. Checking to see where you are at in a talk is fine, but relying on your visual aid to hand-hold you through an entire presentation sets off alarms in the audience. Alarms that sound like: “this person didn’t try at all.”

2. It’s Distracting

An old adage for actors is that they should never turn their backs on the audience. Reading directly off your slides is the presentation equivalent; it breaks the focus between you and the audience and makes them feel as if that special “fourth wall” illusion is broken.

3. It’s Self-Centered

When you give your slides attention instead of your audience, you make a clear statement: my message and ego matter more than the audience. You eliminate eye contact and other nonverbal cues that show you are just as responsive to the listening audience as they are to you.

4. It’s Redundant

Don’t use your slides to repeat an entire message; instead consider using minimal
text to share a key word or idea. Your audience won’t be populated by crash test dummies, they are much smarter than that. Respect their intelligence by not reading redundant information from your slides.

5. It’s a Snooze

There is nothing engaging about reading from a screen to a group that can already see the slides themselves. The lack of surprise will most likely put your audience into REM sleep, wasting an opportunity for them to actively listen.

Your eyes will probably wander over your slides at some point during your presentation, and that’s perfectly acceptable. The real problem only occurs when you replace an engaging, dynamic speech with the agony of a drone-voiced slide reading. Don’t do it, we beg you!

Question: Are you guilty of the crime of reading directly from slides?

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