Write Infinitely Better Slide Headings in 3 Steps

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You don’t have to be a writer to write a great slide titles. In this blog, we’ll cover a few headline writing hacks and share actionable advice on improving the effectiveness of your slide headings. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Storify

If your presentation is a story, your slide titles are your audience’s guide to the story. Instead of chapter titles, imagine your headings are the major plot points. They’re supposed to cover the biggest beats (the ‘so what?’ moments) of your presentation.

When you string them together, your slide headings should become a surface-level summary of your story in a logical order. If you’re not sure whether your headers tell your story or whether they flow like a story should, try writing them all out and reading them one after the other.

Whether the structure of your story follows the famous Hero’s Journey narrative or another story shape (find more presentation storytelling structures here), most story-driven presentations follow this basic structure:

Problem > Solution > Outcome

If your slide headings describe a problem, a solution and an outcome and clearly show how each point leads to the next, you’re doing great.

Example:

Imagine you work for Brilliant Auditors, an auditing company hoping to secure a new client with a proposal. Let’s take a look at a few slide headings from the beginning, middle and end of your presentation.

Slide 2 (Beginning) Title: Finding the right auditor can be an arduous process.

Problem? Check! It’s right in the title. This opening header shows you understand your audience’s pain points and it promises to solve the problem over the course of the presentation.

Below the header, this slide includes a brief list of the audience’s pain points (i.e. the challenges involved in choosing the right auditor) and must-haves for auditing services.

Slide 6 (Middle) Title: Brilliant Auditors isn’t just a business. It’s a mission statement.

This slide introduces a solution, but at an angle. You’re not just offering your services to the client; you’re saying that your company approaches the partnership in a unique way (hello, USP), not just as a transaction, but as a mission.

Below the header, this slide covers the basics of Brilliant Auditors’ solution.

Slide 15 (End) Title: We deliver a client-centred approach, open communication and a great cost-benefit ratio.

Finally, we have the outcome. You’re painting a picture of what it would look like if your client took your advice and hired you. You’re giving them the ‘so what’ and showing them what’s in it for them – all in one headline!

Below the header, this slide gets into the benefits clients can get from working with Brilliant Auditors.

For more advice on storytelling in your presentations, check out our blog, The Science Behind Presentation Storytelling.

 

Step 2: Focus on the key takeaway, not the contents (i.e. the newspaper method).

Most of us were taught to write category titles, or titles that describe the contents of a slide by putting them into a category. They’re easy to spot…

‘Testimonials.’

‘Q1 Sales’

‘My Favourite Types of Shoes’

Other than accurately describing the information on the slide (in other words, providing a handy but useless caption), category titles don’t do much to engage your audience.

Instead of writing category titles, try writing titles around the key takeaway of each slide. What do you want your audience to remember? What’s the conclusion of your research? How does your product solve a specific problem?

For example:

‘Testimonials.’ -> ‘Glowing Reviews Highlight Our Seamless Process.’

‘Q1 Sales’ -> ‘Q1 Sales Doubled Over Previous Period’

‘My Favourite Types of Shoes’ -> ‘Trainers Triumph Over Heels and Sandals’

What do these slide headings have in common?

  • They’re action titles. They don’t just describe something’s existence; they describe something that’s happening
  • They give your audience the ‘so what’ of your slide in a quick and digestible line
  • If your audience reads them, they’ll get the point of the slide without needing to look at the rest

If in doubt, take a leaf out of a journalist’s book. It’s their job to give readers the most important bit of information as quickly as possible. Browse newspapers for articles and take inspiration from the brief, simple and info-packed headlines.

Step 3: Shorten & Simplify

One of the goals of creating an action title (in the last step) is to make the point of the slide clear and obvious. If your heading is too long or complicated, it won’t have the same effect. Plus, your audience will spend their time trying to decipher your title instead of listening to what you’re saying. They should be able to scan the slide and understand your meaning almost instantly.

As a rule of thumb, keep it precise and never longer than two lines – just one line is even better, if you can do it. Use our methods to simplify your word count:

#1: Turn your sentences into words.

Headline: We have a vast amount of experience working with similarly sized companies in the hospitality sector

Revised Headline: Proven Track Record in Hospitality

You don’t need the full sentence – after all, you’re likely to say it all out loud anyway. Instead, try pulling out the important parts. In this header, you’re trying to show off your experience with similar companies.

#2: Use AI to help you cut down on words.

Headline: We have a vast amount of experience working with similarly sized companies in the hospitality sector

Revised Headline: “Hospitality Sector: Extensive Experience with Peer Companies”

If you can’t figure out which words to cut and which to keep, try an AI tool like ChatGPT to help you come up with ideas. Try this prompt: “Turn this sentence into an effective but brief slide header in a presentation.” Play around with the answer until it works for you!

Writing a great headline isn’t rocket science! Bookmark this blog to come back to when you need some slide title inspiration. Need a hand with your next pitch, proposal or sales deck? Give us a call.

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