Why Your Slide Deck Is Killing Your Message

If you’ve ever felt like your meticulously prepared slide deck turned into a confusing mess for your audience, you’re not alone. 

Maybe you presented what you felt was an incredible amount of information, only to see head scratching and confused looks, bewildering you in the process. 

Why did the information not resonate? How did the group not understand what you were trying to get across? You had so much information and so many slides…what could have been missed?

In fact, all of those slides and information might be the very reason your message was missed.

Your slide deck might actually be killing your message. 

This is an all-too-common scenario in big companies, however, it can easily be avoided. Let’s unpack some tactics to ensure your message doesn’t just float in the corporate ether but lands with impact.


The Great Content Deluge

Picture this: You’re armed to the teeth with data, insights, and slides — oh, so many slides. Your mission? To convey a message, a vision, perhaps a directive. 

But as you start sharing all of this information with your audience, you notice the glaze over their eyes and the discreet checks of phones under the table. You’ve lost them, and with them, the essence of your message.


The Problem: Firehosing Information

It’s a scene replayed in conference rooms across the corporate world. Speakers, armed with slide decks packed to cover every conceivable base, only to leave their audience confused and lost. The executives are left wondering:

“What’s the real takeaway here?”

“Am I supposed to make a call on this?”

“What exactly is being asked of me?”

Before you know it, the meeting’s a wrap, and everyone’s scooting back to their desks, wondering why they were in the meeting in the first place.


The Solution: Crafting Clarity

So, how do we ensure our communication is not just heard but truly resonates with the people that it needs to? Let’s break it down:

1. Know Your Audience

Before you even open PowerPoint, ask yourself, “Who is this for?” 

Understanding your audience’s perspective, their goals, and their challenges can transform your message from generic to genuinely engaging.

2. Lead with the Ask

If you’re after a decision, a nod of approval, or a brainstorming session, make that clear upfront. Don’t bury the lede under a mountain of slides. Instead, start with it. “I need your input on X” or “We’re seeking a decision on Y” sets the stage perfectly.

3. Curate Your Content

This is where the art of selection comes in. Resist the urge to show off every nugget of data you’ve unearthed. Choose only what aligns with your audience’s interests and what will guide them from point A (where they currently are) to point B (where you need them to be). This doesn’t mean skipping the details; it means making every piece of information you share count toward your objective.


What It Looks Like

Imagine you’re in a tech company, pitching a new process aimed it speeding up deployment times. Instead of starting with a deep dive into the technicalities, open with the decision you need: 

“We’re looking to decide on adopting X process to improve our deployment speed.” 

Then, tailor your content to show how this process aligns with your executives’ goal of market agility and reduced go-to-market times, backed by concise, compelling data.


Wrapping It Up

Navigating the choppy waters of corporate communication requires more than just high volumes of information; it demands strategic message delivery. By focusing on your audience, leading with your ask, and curating your content, you can transform your communication from a firehose to a laser — precise, focused, and, most importantly, effective.

Next time you’re gearing up to address the higher-ups, remember: it’s not about how much you can say, but how clearly and concisely you can convey the right message. Here’s to making your next meeting memorable for all the right reasons!

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Hey, I’m Tim.

Tim Fortescue is an executive coach who specializes in leadership and communication development for teams. In short, he’s here to help you be consistently you.

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