Presentation Slides: Do Speakers Need Them?

PB from Seattle writes:

“I’ve recently heard that the “best” speakers don’t need slides… what do you think?”

Dear PB,

I’ve reached out to PowerPoint and presentation design expert and author of Formulate a Winning Presentation, Margy Schaller of Laser Pointer Presentations, to answer this for us.

Margy writes: 

For many years, slides were text heavy teleprompters for speakers that became mind-numbing for the audience.

In today’s world, the answer is not so clear cut. If the purpose of the speech is to share your personal experience in an inspirational way (ie ,the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony), then slides can often be a distraction.

However, if the purpose of the presentation is to teach your audience something about a topic, then good slides are a necessity. Recent studies have shown that people learn and, more importantly, RETAIN information up to 80% better with visuals. In order to achieve this, slides must follow the Assertion-Evidence model. No longer do we put a header with a list of bullets or paragraphs of information. The Assertion is a short headline in a complete sentence. The Evidence is a visual.

For example, instead of:

Importance of Good Customer Service

  • Keeps current customers happy
  • Generates positive reviews
  • Grows future business

The Assertion-Evidence model would be:
A picture of a happy customer at the type of business we were talking about with bolded text over top saying, “Good customer service contributes to the success of our business”.

If you have questions for Margy or if you’re feeling that your slides may be looking old and worn, I encourage you to reach out to Margy to learn how you can breathe new life into your PowerPoint presentation! (


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