PowerPoint Rules That Could Save Our Sanity - InformationWeek

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4/24/2007
06:28 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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PowerPoint Rules That Could Save Our Sanity

Blogger/speaker/VC Guy Kawasaki in a speech at CA World served up a great set of to end PowerPoint insanity. When I found out his "10/20/30" rules come from a 16-month-old post on Mr. Kawasaki's blog, I worried they may be a bit stale to discuss here. Then I realized: since not one person in business yet adheres to this PowerPoint reform movement, the rules are worth sharing.

Blogger/speaker/VC Guy Kawasaki in a speech at CA World served up a great set of to end PowerPoint insanity. When I found out his "10/20/30" rules come from a 16-month-old post on Mr. Kawasaki's blog, I worried they may be a bit stale to discuss here. Then I realized: since not one person in business yet adheres to this PowerPoint reform movement, the rules are worth sharing.Mr. Kawasaki crafted his ideas for people pitching startup ideas to venture capitalists, like himself. But they're a great challenge for anyone to boil slides down to their dramatic essence. The 10/20/30 rules he shared with the to the 6,000-some guests at CA World this week are:

10: Only ten slides.

20: Plan for a 20-minute presentation, even if you're booked for an hour. If someone's late, if there's technical difficulty, or someone-gasp-asks questions, you've got time.

30: That's the smallest type size you're allowed to use-no words smaller than 30 point. If you're writing in 8-point type, you haven't decided what's important, and you'll end up reading exactly what's written on the slide.

These rules are genius. By far the most radical is the 20-minute presentation. We all tend to expand into the time slot given. I run a meeting each week that's supposed to run 30 to 60 minutes, and the pathetic average must be something like 59 minutes and 35 seconds.

Slides only make it worse. Here's what usually happens: Speaker says "I really want this to be a conversation, I don't want to hear myself talk, I want to discuss what's most important to you … " and then Speaker pull up 60 slides, races through them on autopilot, then at three minutes before the hour, looks up, and says "I think we have time for a couple of questions."

How much courage does it take to go into an hour presentation with 20 minutes worth of slides? Talk about a leap of faith-to pitch with all your might for 20 minutes, then say: "Those are all the slides I have. I can share much deeper data and analysis in any areas you'd like to explore, but I've intentionally left the last 40 minutes open so you can ask what's most important to you." Your boss might fall out of the chair. (Or, always possible, throw you out the door.)

We all know how likely 10/20/30 is to become commonplace in business PowerPoint presentations. But if you're looking to stand out from the crowd, it might be worth a shot in your next pitch.

P.S. Mr. Kawasaki used more than 10 slides in his talk. But they all had big type.

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