Read-Through Presentations: The Ins and Outs

The past year has thrown numerous challenges our way, meaning we’ve all had to adapt to new environments at relatively short notice: switching tactics, cancelling plans, and making the move from in-person to online.

The use of the digital world has seen a huge increase over the last 12 months, and for good reason! Tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Slides and PowerPoint have been vital for our transition from real to virtual life.

The last couple of months have seen many people getting back into the swing of larger gatherings, so we’ve been focusing on in-person presenting, relying less on those digital tools. Although a larger proportion of us have returned to the office, many of our workplaces are still operating virtually. With this in mind, we’re taking the opportunity to discuss read-through presentations.

What is a read-through presentation?

A read-through presentation is a presentation that is not presented directly to an audience, but instead sent to and read by its recipients, essentially like a handout. They still rely on tools such as Google Slides and PowerPoint to make them the best they can be, but they’re generally treated more as a ‘document’ than a ‘presentation’.

Read-Through Presentations: The Ins and Outs

How should a read-through presentation be formatted?

All general slide rules still apply for read-throughs. To find out why these general rules are so important and what they are, you can read our previous blogs here.
Since your read-through presentation will be read by someone else, you really can’t get away with size 8pt text and over-filled slides. Remember, you won’t be there to elaborate explain or talk over any on-screen confusion – in other words, you won’t be there to act as either a distraction or clarifier for your audience.

I to keep your slides visual and support your text with imagery. Having good visual aspects to your slides is scientifically proven to help engagement and understanding. This may be through infographics, photos or icons which best back up your written points.

When you’re presenting to an audience, you have the added benefits of your own charisma and presence to help explain your points, whilst keeping your slides minimal. With a read-through, you have to make sure all the information needed is included clearly on your slides to avoid confusion.

What MUST be included in a read-through presentation?

A ‘Contents’ page.

Once your presentation has been written and you’ve included all the information you need, you can gather page numbers and titles to form a Contents page.

Contents pages are crucial when creating and sending out digital presentations. They enable the reader to navigate through your slides with ease and provide your audience with a clear understanding of what is coming up, and most importantly, when.

Once you’ve completed the Contents page, you can add an internal hyperlink at any point in the presentation. This will link people back to that page. Additionally, you can hyperlink each page number to that exact page. For example:


 Plan of action ………………………………………………… Page 3’

Here, you could add an internal hyperlink to ‘Page 3,’ which will take readers to Page 3 when they click on it. This is another way for readers to go through your slides with ease.

How should a read-through be exported and sent out?

How and where you send your presentation is up to you and the requirements needed for the project – this can be via email, transfer links, messaging service, etc. However, when it comes to exporting, we always recommend PDFs.

We often see presentations being exported as PowerPoint files (PPTX) or shared as Google Slides links. Both of these methods encounter issues, such as the wrong fonts being used, links either missing or broken, elements within the presentation at risk of being moved around, and they don’t format properly over different devices.

PDFs remove all of these problems. They are the best format for sending, opening and navigating. Hyperlinks carry over to PDFs too, meaning accessibility is the same over every device.

Bonus tip: Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: Are they going to be reading multiple presentations in the same sitting? If so, you want to make it clear who’s written these slides and give yourself credit for the work! Include your full name, contact details, and company name (if applicable). You can create a “master page” to apply these details over every slide, so the reader could open your file at any point and know YOU have created the document.

Don’t miss out on the chance to impress by submitting a poorly created read-through presentation. At IG, we understand the stress that comes with proposal creation and sending, but thankfully, that’s where we come in. Get in touch today.