Last weekend, a number of the nation’s top professional speakers got together for an annual conference. One of our esteemed guests was a neuroscientist, who shared a mountain of fascinating data, culminating in some very simple, very useful tips for the creation of slides. 

Will you take it on trust that there’s a depth of science behind these tips? Great, then here’s what you need to know: 

- Favour strong images and bold, open spaces. Try to use as little text as possible. You can even abbreviate sentences down to fragments. Instead of ‘Which direction would you choose?,’ simply write, ‘Which direction?’

- Try to place your images toward the left of the screen, and your text toward the right. This is linked to the crossing of synaptic nerves as the eyes feed into the brain

- If you bring your text in using an animation function, ensure that it flies in from right to left, and not left to right. This makes it easier for the brain to process. 

- Use shadows to extrude your text from the image behind it. Oddly, this is related to our ‘fight or flight’ response, in a complex and interesting way. 

- A slide that ‘requires’ can be more effective than a slide that ‘declares.’ Consider using questions as your headlines, rather than statements. 

Improve the effectiveness of your visuals, and you improve perceptions of your professionalism. Continually raise your game, and you could position yourself as an industry leader. 


Douglas Kruger, CSP, is a global speaker, who focuses on brand, culture and innovation. He is the author of five business books with Penguin and has won the national championships for Public Speaking, through Toastmasters International, a record 5 times.

In 2016, in honour of excellence in his craft, Douglas was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame by the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa. In 2018, the National Speakers Association granted him the accreditation of Certified Speaking Professional, a designation held by only 12 per cent of speakers globally.

See him in action, or sign up for his free newsletter, ‘From Amateur to Expert’ at Email