Presenting legal/regulatory quotes; Issue #272 October 16, 2012

Yesterday I spoke to a conference of real estate and legal professionals about how to create more effective PowerPoint slides when giving training sessions. They commonly show quotes or regulations from legal documents in their training sessions. Often presenters end up just reading the text of a paragraph because there doesn't seem to be any better way to present this type of information. In this article, I want to share some tips for presenting legal or regulatory quotes.

As much as we would like to be able to avoid sentences or paragraphs of text on the slide, the reality is that we are sometimes required to show the entire text because it is important to discuss with the audience. One of the ways to focus the audience on an important phrase or words is to highlight them on the screen like you would use a highlighter on a page in a manual or book. While PowerPoint does not have a highlighter function, you can achieve the same result by having a rectangle appear using the Wipe animation effect behind the important text. Each item on a slide is on its own layer, so you can draw the rectangle over the text and then move it behind the text. If you use this technique and the audience has the text in a handout, ask them to highlight the text in their handout so they will remember the point you are making.

Another technique for focusing the audience on a portion of text is to make the selected text zoom out of the paragraph on the slide. Start by showing the entire paragraph of text on the slide. Then have a callout shape, such as a rounded rectangle, indicate where in the paragraph you want the audience to focus. Finally, have a larger version of the text zoom out on the slide so the text is larger and easier to read for the audience. You can create a large version of the text by creating a new text box and increasing the font size.

If your text is copied from a PDF document, it will appear on the slide like an image. You can use one of the image tools to help make the text easier to work with. To remove the white background behind the text, use the Set Transparent Color tool. Select the background of the text and the tool will make the background transparent. Now you can use the highlight technique above if you want to. To use the Zoom In technique with a text image, you make a second copy of the image, use the cropping tool to remove the text you don’t need, and stretch the image so it becomes larger.

After you have shown the text and explained it, I suggest you also demonstrate what the text means by using a visual, such as a photo or diagram. This makes the meaning easier for the audience to remember. For example, one of the topics in real estate is how funds collected for transactions are held separate from the real estate company's operating funds. After you show the regulation that states this, why not show a diagram with two bank accounts, one labeled as customer deposits and the other as operating funds. It makes the meaning of the text more real.

Sometimes you can't avoid putting a large amount of text on a slide, especially if you are presenting legal or regulatory topics. Use these tips to make the presentation more interesting for the audience. These tips will also make it more interesting for you as the presenter and you will avoid reading the slides to your audience.