I have always wondered what it would be like if top government officials used slides during their speeches, instead of just reading from a script. That’s why I was surprised recently when I noticed in the news a photograph of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti with a screen and a slide projected behind his shoulders. Usually screens have just the title of the talk, or a video close-up, but this time I saw… bullet points!
I searched on the Internet for news coverage of the Financial Times Italy Summit and found a video where Prof. Monti confesses that it was his first time using slides. I also found some photographs where the slides are visible on #assodigitale.it.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of his titles were not generic but contained specific messages (“Second lowest budget deficit in major advanced economies”, “High but manageable public debt”, “Reforms for growth: more competition”). This is excellent. Many presenters would have gone with generic titles (such as “Deficit”, “Public debt status”, “Reforms”) which are a wasted opportunity. Prof. Monti’s slide titles summarize the content of each slide and transmit a unifying, clear overall message.
Here are a few observations and advice:
- The slides contain only text in lists of bullet points. This is to be expected, as presentation software defaults to a bullet point style and so this is what most people use. Some of the text contained numbers which could have had more impact with a graphic representation. Still, that would mean going with a single message per slide structure, requiring more work and more rehearsal in order to advance the slides at the right time. I was not present at the conference so I don’t know how long Prof. Monti lingered on each point.
- The slide titles should not be underlined. Underlined text looks like a hyperlink. I would remove the underlining and use a bold or different font. The title should also start a couple of characters to the right.
- The slide template contains an image centered at the bottom of each slide with a government logo. Unfortunately the logo sits inside a grey rectangle and I am not sure why that is. I think a sharper image of the logo, without the grey box would look better. The template also contains a horizontal line above the slide heading. Again, I am not sure why it was done this way, since it does not add anything but wastes space.
I think that using slides for important subjects such as the economy is a sign of extreme competence and confidence. As the Romans used to say: “Verba volant, scripta manent”.
I look forward to seeing more slides used by government officials in Italy. It would also be nice to find them posted on the web for all to see.