strategies for avoiding the slideument

A popular question posed to me (in general and several times just this week) is: what should I do when my deck is meant both to meet my presentation or live meeting needs and will also be sent ahead as a pre-read or afterwards as a follow-up?

This scenario often leads to a slideument—part presentation and part document, and not exactly meeting either of the above needs. The slideument is typically too dense to put up on the big screen and often not detailed enough for when you aren't there to talk through the material. I've written about this challenge before here.

Here, I'll suggest three potential alternatives for avoiding the slideument:

1. Create two different documents. Ideally, these two situations call for two totally separate work products: sparse slides for when you are talking through the material live and a denser, more detailed report-like document for the version that is disseminated. If it's something really important, consider whether creating two separate documents makes sense.

2. Leverage animation & annotation. If you're working in PowerPoint land (or something similar), you can animate a sequential appearance of elements on a slide, focusing your audience's attention exactly where you want it when you discuss the material live. Then the sent around version would have the final fully-built slide or be a version that annotates via text what you would say in the meeting or presentation. This blog post illustrates this approach using a specific example (from my book).

3. Make use of the Notes feature. If you're working in PowerPoint, make use of the pane below each slide that says "Click to add notes." Leave your slides sparse and put the narrative that you would say for each, or any additional context that is needed, in words in that notes pane. Just make sure to alert your audience of the sent-around-version to look there for details.

Do you have other ideas on how to address this challenge? If so, please leave a comment with your thoughts or suggestions on what you've seen work well.

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