Consider this the Kon Mari Method of slide design.

The message of Marie Kondo’s New York Times bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has resonated with those struggling with more stuff space. It struck a chord with readers thirsting for order, organized drawers, and clear corners, who actually want see the color of their closet carpet. Many instinctively know greater order will lead to peace, clear minds and happiness.

Now let’s jump to your last presentation and that one slide you spent hours building, editing, rebuilding, and re-aligning content so it all fits.

Everyone has a “kitchen sink” slide (or two or 10) somewhere in their deck. Your audience, the people obligated to listen to you and try to decipher every icon, word, highlight color and animated entrance will often look back at you with a strained or frozen expression. That silence is not their awestruck, stunned stupor at the how much amazing info you were able to shoehorn onto that slide. It’s the silence of internal angst or just plain surrender as they abandon hope of deciphering the main idea of your content.

I can’t buy into the Japanese Kon Mari method of folding my T-shirts, or thanking my high school yearbooks for all the joy they’ve brought me before dumping them in the trash. But I still agree with the less-is-more, less-leads-to-happiness philosophy this phenomenon of a book espouses.

When there’s a clear, concise, single idea and image on each slide that illustrates that single walk-away thought, you leave room for your audience to receive your message. You leave room for it to be absorbed and understood. Your reader, your audience can grasp what you intend to communicate. If you can declutter your slides and allow white space, and supporting images to carry and help communicate your intended message you will have mastered the art of de-cluttering a presentation… and, just maybe, the art of keeping an audience engaged.

I can’t promise that tidying-up your slides will be as life-transforming as the New York Times bestseller touts in the title. But it will bring more joy, understanding and ultimately more buy-in from your audience.


Julie Fries