Hey, your bullets are showing

October 29, 2015 by

Admit it, you’ve probably had a version of the following ‘Ah, I’m naked! dream’ when you were young; you show up late to class and realize as you walk in front of your teacher and peers that you’re in your underwear, or worse, nothing at all. Frozen. While you probably don’t have that dream anymore, maybe you’ve had a similar experience as a professional. That is, standing before your colleagues presenting a slide you didn’t adequately prepare for, reading the bullets right off the screen. Close your eyes for a second…  Have you been there? Did you feel like people could read through you, right down to your underwear? Polka dots, of course.

Which brings me to my point about bullets. In all their facility, in all their brevity, bullets are pretty much the underwear of your presentation. Except they’ll never be sexy. Think about it. Underwear. Your trusty standby. The first thing you put on in the morning. They are (ahem) brief, and serve many a purpose, from comfort to support. They’re with you all day long, underneath it all, as you present yourself to the world. There are even those folks who skip the underwear and go straight to slinky shirts or skinny jeans, who must be either very self-confident, or don’t mind exposing themselves a little. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Now, before you don a bullet on a slide, ask yourself: do I want the audience to see my underwear?  Unless you’re the Naked Cowboy, or model for Fruit of the Loom for a living, that answer is probably no. Instead, use bullets when outlining your slides to ensure you have your details straight, then dress your slides with meaningful images or visuals that capture an important concept or tell a compelling story. Ultimately, what’s great is that you’ll know your bullets are there if you do have to strip down to the supporting facts.