Presenter’s Manifesto: Hide The Slides

Sometimes we need to give the same presentation multiple times with just slight variations. Depending on the audience, perhaps 80% of the content is always the same, and the last 20% varies by the needs of the particular audience, or by a specific area of focus. Product sales presentations are a classic example, where based on the expertise of the audience, not all of the material needs to be presented, or it may be needed to be presented in a different sequence.

Snowshoe Hare in hiding

Snowshoe Hare in Hiding. Courtesy Anne Elliot via Flickr


A very common approach is to create one giant slide deck to rule them all, and modify it for each audience. When using this strategy, we are careful to observe the following rules, which comprise Tip 6 of our Manifesto:

  • Always hide unneeded slides. Asking the audience to wait while we hurriedly (or Heaven forbid, slowly) page through slides that don’t apply makes us look unprofessional, tells our audience we didn’t prepare, or worse, implies that we don’t care. And for any slides we do forget to hide, we don’t stop to explain or apologize – we just quickly move on and try not to break the flow of words or thought.
  • Sanity check the result. When rearranging slides, it is very easy to accidentally create gaps and abrupt context changes that can lead to either confusion, or ruin the point we are trying to make. This sanity check will happen automatically when we:
  • Practice – Depending on the kinds of revisions we make to the slides, the flow of words from our mouths will also likely need to be revised. This is especially true if in addition to recording the slides, we have also changed any of the content. The best preventative measure for any possible awkward moments that might result is practice. The previous sentence is worth reading again. We want to be smooth as silk as we glide from slide to slide, and practicing our revised presentation assures us of that. Nothing should be a surprise to us or our audience.

Tip 6 is easy to do. It’s also easy not to do. As good presenters, we resist the urge to rush preparation. We always take the time to get the details right when revising a one-size-fits-all slide deck.

This post is part of the series “The Presenter’s Manifesto”.  You can find the beginning of the series here: Presenter’s Manifesto – Prologue