E-learning designers are routinely challenged to distill, organize, and present vast amounts of information in a way that makes learning more efficient, effective, and appealing. One common misstep is to overwhelm the audience by presenting too much information at once. Striking the right balance between complete information and too much information requires keen professional judgment. Check out these 5 key strategies for streamlining your slides.

1. Stick to One Idea per Slide

People can only absorb a small amount of information at one time. If you include only one idea per slide, you will help reduce the amount of mental processing required by your learners, and tilt the odds of them remembering it in your favor. Besides, it doesn’t cost anything to add more slides ... and slide count means nothing to an e-learner. Check out this example to see for yourself what that experience feels like.

2. Replace Paragraphs with Bullets

Remember, slides aren’t Word documents. If you find yourself dealing with any slides that have multiple paragraphs of text, consider condensing them into short bullet points that only include the keywords. While bullet points take a lot of criticism, they can be an effective way to organize information. A few well-crafted bullet points are a lot easier to digest than a screen crammed full of text.

3. Replace Text with Narration

Using audio can help you reduce, or even eliminate, the text on your slides. This is a particularly good idea if you are also showing any kind of complex graphics, since it’s impossible to read text and look at graphics at the same time. Skeptical about whether audio alone is an effective way of explaining a diagram? Check out this example to see the same material presented four different ways and decide which one you prefer.

4. Replace Text with Visuals

It’s true what they say: a picture really is worth a thousand words. Numerous experiments have shown that concepts are much more memorable when they are presented as pictures instead of as words. In short, never send words to do the job that an appropriate image can do better.

5. Use Charts, Not Tables, For Data

Dense tables of numbers are almost always difficult to interpret. Typically, it isn’t the actual numbers that matter, but rather the story they tell. Depending on what you want to call out from the data, a chart can be a much more effective way to focus your audience on what you want them to know.

Remember, if you or any of your project’s stakeholders balk at eliminating the numbers and text, you can always move them down into the notes area and make them available on demand. That way you get the best of both worlds: clean, effective slides and all the nitty-gritty details for anyone who really wants them.

More Resources

Looking for more tips on taking your slides to the next level? Check out these helpful resources:

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Craig Hadden - Remote Possiblities
Cameron Cook

The "replace text with visuals" example, whilst funny, actually suggests that the reverse is true in some cases. The question, as always, is "What information are you trying to get across?" If you want people to understand that a circle is a shape of Euclidean Geometry, whatever that means, then only showing them a picture of a circle is clearly insufficient! Same with the bullet points example. The final bullet tells me so much less than its paragraph equivalent. The richness of the information is diminished to the point where the final bullet is almost meaningless. I'd challenge the convention of even referring to e-learning pages as "slides", as it encourages us to employ *presentation* design principles to things which are not always, and indeed often shouldn't be, in any way re... Expand