Would you like some RICE with your slides?


You may often have heard presentation material referred to as speaker support slides. I’d like to dissuade you from that way of thinking and instead, encourage you to always think of them as audience support slides.

Your slides are there to help your audience not you. Never use slides as a crutch or an aide memoire for your own purposes. The use of slides throughout a presentation may well help guide you through the speech but that’s not what they are for. They are there to make your speech more comprehensible to your audience and therefore get your points across in a more powerful way.

The acronym RICE is a handy way of determining if a particular point you are making could be made better with the use of a slide or graphic.

Let’s take a look at RICE and how it works. Take any particular point you are making in your presentation. Is it clear enough on its own or might it benefit from being accompanied by a slide? RICE stands for:

  • Reinforce
  • Illustrate
  • Clarify
  • Explain

Think about the point you are making:

  • Would a slide help to reinforce that point in the audience’s mind?
  • Would an illustration of some kind help to increase the audience’s grasp of your point?
  • Would the point benefit from being clarified by the use of a slide?
  • Would the use of a slide explain what you are saying?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes then you have a good candidate for firing up your laptop and producing the slide that is going to achieve one or more of these aims.

Let’s take an example of where slides could be used to accomplish these goals.

Imagine that the following is part of a talk that someone is giving:

“The ecommerce payment process starts with the shopper entering their credit card details on your website. Your website then sends a request to the payment gateway, the company you have chosen to process your online payments. Based on the card number entered, the payment gateway requests a confirmation from the shopper’s bank. The bank sends its response back to the payment gateway and the payment gateway in turn sends its response back to your website. Finally your website shows the appropriate response to the shopper which will either be a successful payment or a failed payment. If it’s a successful payment, the funds are then transferred from the shopper’s bank to your merchant account.”

If you take your time and read that through carefully then it’s quite easy to understand. But if someone is standing up and saying those words in front of an audience then it’s going to be much more difficult to make the process they are explaining sink into the audience’s minds.

Looking at RICE, this part of the speech needs illustrating, clarifying and explaining so it’s a good candidate for a slide.

Now take a look at the video below which shows the slides I have produced to accompany this text. Does this now make the whole process clearer and easier to understand?