Leaving Breadcrumbs

Problem Solving Team

Any article, book, website, or blog will tell you that reading from your notes or slides is poor presentation form.  Unfortunately, these sources often lack specific, field-tested techniques to help you avoid this pitfall.  Well, let’s take care of that little problem today.

As previously discussed, the chances are that you already know what you want to say and are eager to talk about it.  The challenge for most presenters is when to say what they need to say.  To overcome this challenge, leave yourself a trail of breadcrumbs throughout your slides (projected, paper, or otherwise).

These simple cues will show you exactly when you need to unleash the information that’s bottled up in your mind.  Perhaps more importantly, breadcrumbs will ensure that you never forget a part of your presentation that isn’t fully detailed on your slides (because if you are following this blog, your slides are minimal).  Let’s take a look at two examples from my business English presentation about receiving assignments.

Receiving Assignments and Requesting AssistanceIn the above slide, a simple strike-through reminds me to go into the details of why the phrase “ASAP” should be avoided in business communication—or, better yet elicit these ideas from the audience.  Depending on the audience, I may even share the story of how I learned this advice the hard way: on the job.

Receiving Assignments and Requesting Assistance 2The underline in this slide serves two purposes.  The more obvious purpose is for emphasis, but the underline also is a breadcrumb to remind me to specifically explain why it is so important to clarify as many details as possible at the time an assignment is received.

Hopefully, by now you can see how leaving breadcrumbs can remind you of what you need to say and when.  Most importantly it keeps your slides clean and minimal.  If your audience needs your detailed information or anecdotes in writing, you can always include that information in a handout.

Do you have any other ways to leave breadcrumbs?  If so, please share them in the comments below.

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