The Message-Centric Slide: by Lior Student

Created: Wednesday, July 19, 2017, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 9:30 am

Updated: at



You know the drill. The teams are assembled for a mandatory meeting on some subject or another. The speaker takes front and center, and behind him, a PowerPoint presentation that looks like it’s been with him since the 90s. As your eyes ping pong between the speak and the screen, back and forth, your eyelids begin to feel heavy… before you know, you’re in dreamland.

Are you the type that begins preparation by opening your PowerPoint and typing in your data? Text? Excel?  Are you and your slide interchangeable?  Is your message instantly clear? Power up your slides to get results with our message-centric, bottom-up method.

Message-Centric Slide

At Make a Point, we’ve seen it all. Some begin working on a presentation by typing directly in the slides, plugging in Excel charts and reusing past slides. Many find it easier to write a script. In other cases, clients choose a visual they found on Google Images that is related to the topic at hand. Others just data dump.

How do you get to the PowerPoint Promised Land?

When you begin your powerpoint presentation, start at the bottom, under the slide. Yes, really.  You’ll work your way up. Write your one sentence main message in the speaker notes below the slide and then work your way up to design, illustration, and title. This will determine what will be on the slide, it is your North Star.

Illustrate one message per slide, no more. You may have several slides illustrating the same message: a graph, an image, text – but never more than one message per slide.

The golden rule to cleaning up your PowerPoint game: If the speaker and slide say the same thing, in the same way, one of them is not needed. Slides are there to illustrate what the speaker says in a different, visual way, to help the audience understand the message.

Fit your visual to the message. Which layout fits your message?  Timeline, Venn diagram, pyramid, pie chart, map, graph? When adding features to the slide use the following crucial criteria to edit: Does this element support or distract from my message? Use the minimum text needed to get the message across. The ultimate sophistication is simplicity. In slides that means, white space.  Animation, noises, transitions- these can all distract your audience and stand in your way of getting results.

Which Layout Fits Your Message

Less is more. Want proof? Just look at Google.com. They could have all of the flare money can buy and yet, most of the space on the page is white, leaving the user to do but one thing: search the Google engine. Message delivered.

There can only one primadonna on the slide. Use a focus element like a circle, arrow or pin and a consistent color for clarity.

Once you have your message and your layout, write a short, specific prompt as a title. One great way to do this is with a question. What question will this slide answer?

When presenting, lead with the message and let the slide follow you and support your message. The speaker should never be chasing the PowerPoint. Transition into each slide with a question or a leading remark, such as “You are about to see…” and only then switch to the coming slide.

Be in control of the message, and you will be in control of the slides.


Lior StudentSince 2005, Lior Student has dedicated her career to the art of crystallizing ideas, articulating their essence and delivering a message that gets results. Lior believes in the power of words to seize opportunities. Lior works globally with data-dumpers, buzz-word-addicts, slide-dependents and I’ve-got-no-time-executives; her clients include Microsoft, Applied Materials, Cisco, Amdocs, NICE, EY. Lior drives the messaging process, teaches new ways of thinking, asks, listens, pushes, focuses, refines and challenges – to move individuals, teams, and organizations from ideas to memorable messages. For more information, visit her site, Make a Point.

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