When is it all right to use bullet points?

bullet points in presentationsI’ve posted a new presentation on Slideshare.net which you can watch below.  The blog post explains the ideas further.

What’s the problem with bullet points?

It’s not the bullet points that are actually a problem.  It’s more about the way that people use bullet points in their presentation slides.

The typical way of creating slides is to start with a vague or generic title at the top of the page — like “3rd Quarter Sales Results” or “Using Social Media”.

Titles like that don’t really tell you anything.  Instead, you have to wait for the presenter to finish speaking in order to find out what is important to know about the 3rd quarter sales results or about using social media.

Then the slide very often displays multiple “bullet points” related to the title.

Slides that are designed like this are more like a page from a book: the presenter wants to tell you a lot of different bits of information about whatever the topic is from the slide title.

But, because a presentation slide has much more limited resources than a book page (both in space and time), people tend to shorten their bullet point text by leaving out as many words as possible to still convey some type of message.

Unfortunately, those cryptic bullet points don’t convey a very clear message.  They don’t really mean much by themselves and, again, the audience needs to hear what the presenter says to really understand the bullet points.

Here’s the big problem:  While the audience is busy reading all the bullet points on the slide, they’re missing a lot of what the speaker is saying!


When are bullet points a good choice? from Susan Schleef

Better Ways to Use Bullet Points

The slideshow above talks about some situations where bullet points can be used effectively because the audience doesn’t have to read a lot of text while also  trying to listen to the presenter.  The human brain is just not good at that kind of multitasking!
So check out my new slideshow and see if there are situations where you could be using bullet points more effectively.  (And then think about the other situations where you have been using bullet points but maybe you shouldn’t!!!)
To see more ideas about avoiding bullet points, check out my most popular Slideshare offering:  17 Ways to Eliminate Bullet Points
If you like my ideas — or it you disagree with them — or if you have any questions, please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!



Comments are closed.