Although I try to shorten bullet points as much as possible, I also would like an audience member to be able to scan the slide in a few seconds to remind himself of what I have talked about. To achieve this, is it better to....

1. Embolden the most important 1-2 words

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2. Change the text so that the first words are the most important ones, even if the text becomes less fluent/readable

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  • who is the target audience for the slide? – Midas Jun 26 '17 at 20:54
  • @Midas: I guess colleagues and management because this would be the most important scenario for me. But I stumbled upon this question while doing slides for a fictitious company as part of an exercise. – problemofficer Jun 27 '17 at 4:15
  • bold pop-out and make a quick scan much more easy. – DesignerAnalyst Jun 27 '17 at 5:50

Highlighting words is OK, so I'd suggest to go with first option.

While you'd test with real users, in my personal experience I noticed that some words required my attention, and therefore, I paid attention to them. Basically, I performed a visual scanning process.

With regards to your second option, it didn't call my attention at all since I just saw a block of text with no particular points. If I HAD to read them, maybe I would do it, but without obligation whatsoever, I wouldn't pay any attention at all to that block, because visual scanning was muted or there are not enough stimuli to perform such scan.

Also, in general, it's better to avoid passive voices, and speak as naturally as possible. Your second approach has an instructional vibe that most users will ignore (again, you should test that).

In short: visual scanning transmit content hierarchy. Proper visual stimuli and highlighting of content in blocks of text will help users understand if the content at sight is of value or if they can safely ignore it

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