The four absolute no-nos of speechwriting

How to disparage without disparaging, joke without jokes, use vulgarity with gentility and ‘commit PowerPoint’ without boring the audience.

Rather, I saw the squints when watching those in the back row try to decipher what was projected on a screen 60 feet away.

I realized that, once again, Abraham Lincoln had it right. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” If PowerPoint folly is truly the fatuous fad I believe it to be, let it run its course.

PowerPoint slides you cannot read if you are unfortunate enough to sit more than 10 feet from the screen are uncommunicative. Can they be made communicative?

Certainly. Three lines of four or five words per line. Maybe even one line of one word. Big letters. Upper and lower case. (All-caps are hard to decipher.) No serifs. They get in the way. Black on white if possible.

I’ve tried it. It hurts, but it works.

Like a good speech, PowerPoint can, in fact, be made to be clear, complete and concise.

Err on the side of concise.

A 12-minute speech with four or five terse cells on the screen cannot be all bad. Worse than a 12-minute speech without, I grant you, but infinitely better than a 45-minute piece of bloviation which includes the speaker reading the slide to you. That, of course, is what all too many speakers would do if left to revert to primitive type.

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