If you know me for public speaking you know I despise bullet points. It’s not the first time that I talk about it:
- In 2014 I wrote how I used to advise to limit them and then stay away tout-court,
- In 2019 I had a full post on them,
- and later on how they were missing from a great presentation.
Yes indeed this list was built with bullet points, and that’s perfectly fine with me; I don’t think they are great on slides that you want to use in front of an audience. If you read those posts, you know the reasons behind my bold statement. I say bold because they are largely used in business presentations.
Recently I came across this nice TED talk of Melissa Marshall and I would suggest you to see it.
Just after the opening of the talk you can hear
We desperately need great communication from our scientists and engineers in order to change the world.
This is true for many others, including businessmen, salesmen amongst them. Any good idea, product or solution can be hindered by poor communication, poor presentations and poor slides.
The point Melissa brings on the table is not strictly related to bullet points, but they do get an explicit mention:
And when presenting your work, drop the bullet points. Have you ever wondered why they’re called bullet points? (Laughter) What do bullets do? Bullets kill, and they will kill your presentation.
Nothing better than an example to visualize is it and here it is how she does in the talk. This is a textual, bullet points based slide.
There is way too much text and a visual representation is more effective.
There’s only one sentence that the audience can read quickly and then focus back listening to the presenter.
Our beloved dotted lists appear also in the final formula for success!
Trust Melissa and many other experts, including me: avoid them!