Using presentation slides is a great way for sport managers to convey their messages in an attractive and visual way, but it also comes with dangers.

When we are speaking alongside a PowerPoint presentation, we are asking the audience to do two things: 1) listen to us speaking; and 2) digest content on a screen. A typical mistake of presenters is to prioritise providing information on slides. After all, this is the safest choice – everything can be prepared in advance, and guess what? It is also (falsely) assumed that the presentation can also be used as a handout for attendees – killing two birds with one stone.

But piling information into your PowerPoint slides will inevitably decrease attention on what you, the speaker, are saying – in a battle between the eyes and the ears, the eyes almost always win. So if you really want to increase audience attention during your talk, you must simplify the content on your presentation slides, so that the attention will be on you.

This does not have to be a complex task. Use your slides to summarise your points – for example, changing the sentence ‘Over the next five years, a thorough analysis of the Asian market should be considered a priority’ to simply ‘Asian market’. Ideally, this should be supplemented with visual elements, such as simple graphs and photos.

Indeed, your presentation should be so simple, that it could not serve as a handout. As a check, use the ‘handout test’ – print off your presentation slides in advance and show them to someone who knows little about the subject matter. If they understand what the presentation is about, the chances are you have too much information in them.


BCW Sports practice is the sport unit of global advisory firm Burson-Marsteller. We provide strategy and communication advice for sport clients around the world. For more information: