Cliché slides

by Pierre Morsa

You’ve probably all seen these slides: they use a picture which is “cliché,” like two shaking hands. Using a few of these clichés is fine, because they are often the clearest way to illustrate the idea of the slide; it’s nice to be creative, but clarity of the message comes first.

But some presentations seem to overflow with these clichés, using them on every slide. So I asked myself the question: why are some presentations nearly cliché-free, while other presentations are full of them? This question is not as trivial as it may seem. In fact, after some thinking and reviewing the presentations that used a lot of clichés, I realized why: it’s because their narrative is cliché. They are loaded with abstract business concepts such as engagement, empowerment, synergies, but are empty of concrete elements. These presentations promise a lot, but have nothing concrete to show for it.

So when a presentation requires the use of too many clichés, the right thing to ask ourselves is: how could I make the content more concrete? Instead of the cheesy handshake to illustrate collaboration, show a picture of your employees having fun during a team-building activity. Instead of the light bulb to represent innovation, show the latest ideas from your teams. Instead of the generic upward graph, show real results.

In a company where none of these concrete elements can be found, I would seriously ask myself why.

Cheesy handshake