Kill Your Darlings

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When you’ve spent time and energy designing a PowerPoint presentation, it’s not easy to see your effort disappear with a swift stroke of the delete key. But in order to build a truly effective presentation, one that offers the audience exactly what they need (and nothing more or less), you’ll have to kill a few of your darlings.

It’s not simply about shortening a presentation, or finding reasons to negate all the hard work you put into crafting your presentation content and visuals. It’s about giving the audience only what they absolutely, positively NEED to hear and see. Anyone can dump all the information in their brain onto a bunch of slides. It takes intelligence and restraint to include only what is necessary.

Your audience wants the most important and useful content that matters to them. I can’t tell you what that is, but after years of designing presentations both for others and for myself, I know that the perfect presentation is always at least a little bit shorter than the one originally intended.

Steven King has some great perspective on the topic here. An editor once said to him, “2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

It hurts. I know. I’ve been there and had to leave some of my most beautiful slides and useful content on the bench. But like cleaning a wound, sometimes you have to go through a little pain if you want the pleasure of wowing your audience.

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