I learned about the importance of “the scary slide” from one of my favorite bosses at Monster.com.  She was a leader who always knew exactly what to say and how to say it in any situation. Her communication skills were (are) at the expert level.

A scary slide is a slide that you create and insert at the beginning of a presentation to grab your audience’s attention and motivate them to listen to what you have to say next.

Scary slides are powerful. Here’s why…

They are unexpected. Most Powerpoint presentations follow a standard flow: title slide, agenda and overview.  We do not expect to see graphical images or charts at the very beginning.

They go against the grain. In a business environment, we have a tendency to soften messages and make results seem OK, even when they are not. A scary slide does the opposite. It takes results or a business situation and makes them look particularly bad – or simply realistic.

They engage. It has become acceptable to multi-task in meetings. We all do it… we have the Webex open in one window, email open in another and our phone on mute. We listen to the meeting with half of our brain and catch up on work with the other half. Enter the scary slide that may have names or departments. Enter the scary slide that peels back the onion and tells what’s really going on. Once I am scared, I am likely engaged and more likely to pay full attention to the rest of the meeting.

Here is an example of what we usually see when sales are below plan.  Basically says.. blah, blah, blah.

The Non-Scary Slide.. Blah, blah, blah












Here is the scary slide version of the same results.

The Scary Slide - Get your sales in order!!















So, next time you need to add some power to your presentation, consider adding a scary slide. They are unexpected, they go against the grain and they engage. Happy Halloween!



© 2011 – 2012, Marci Reynolds. All rights reserved.


  1. Well put Marci.

    We are very good at not facing into the reality of a situation.

    I like the red downward arrow. If you could get it to flash you could probably kill the commentary as well


    1. Author

      Thanks James. I agree. Sometimes we do not like to face the reality of a situation, but until we do, we can not fix it.

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