So dumb, so helpful

— Merlin Mann

On a recent episode of the Inquisitive podcast, #11: Merlin As A Service, the guest Merlin Mann mentioned a simple yet excellent tip on how to use presentation software (PowerPoint or Keynote for example) to improve the transition slide to slide.

When I have to present to an audience one of the issues I have, especially if I haven’t prepared enough, is to make the transition slide to slide seamless.  I can also struggle if I’ve wondered off the script and need to gracefully transition back into the next slide, often I’ve forgotten what the next slide is!

Merlin’s tip is to use the notes fields in the presentation software in two specific ways.  For each note, aside from the talking points on the side itself, the first line should include, in large bold type, the first thought, words or concept that should come out of the presenters mouth when the slide is presented.  More importantly, the last line of the notes slide should include the first words, thought or concept on the next slide.  This is frankly a genius recommendation.  Having notes arranged this way ensures that as you start the transition from the current slide to the next you can be talking thru the transition as it occurs.  Even if you don’t know your material by heart it can seem like you do.

This approach also has a side benefit of helping redirect if you, like me, wonder off topic.  You can simply hit that last line and transition.