How to Create Effective Slide Titles

Do you know how to create “headline” titles?

Lisa B. Marshall,

Ensure Correct Message Is On Every Slide

Another mistake I see is either a missing title or a title that misses the mark all together. Missing titles seems to occur more often when many graphics are included on the slide, so be sure to check your slides. It’s rare that a slide can stand on it’s own without a title, especially if the information is complex. Again, the title helps viewers to understand and it reinforces the gist of the slide before you get into the supporting details.

The second issue, missing the mark, usually happens when someone is reusing a slide. It’s OK to use the same slide to make a slightly different point, but just don’t forget to rework the title. An incorrect title, of course, can cause confusion. I recommend going through each slide one at a time. Look at the slide briefly; then ask yourself: “What's the main point I want to make?” Then check to see if that matches the title.

How Long Should Slide Titles Be?

Many people ask me, “Well, how long should titles be?” I always say, use as many words as you need to clearly and concisely communicate the main point. Try to use phrases and, if possible, keep it to one line. But for complex topics, two-line titles are OK. A good title is meaningful, specific, brief, and to the point.

Avoid Vague Phrases

Try to avoid using vague phrases (i.e. the role of or the effect of). Instead use action verbs (improves, increases, reduces, surpasses, etc) and quantify when you can (i.e. improves by 25%, increases by $10,000, or reduces 4 points).

Finally, keep in mind that the process of reviewing your slide titles and concentrating on your key messages can only help to improve your delivery of the presentation. Although slide titles are commonly overlooked, they’re important and should be reviewed carefully.

Effective titles (or ineffective titles) can have a significant impact on the overall clarity of your presentation. As YOUR homework, review your last presentation. See how you did. Did you use specific key messages? Did your titles make the points you wanted to make? Did you use phrases and action verbs to concisely and clearly communicate your ideas? Let us know how you did in the comments.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication; your success is my business.

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If you have a question, send email to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops, visit lisabmarshall.com.

Woman on Computer image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall
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