By now it’s a well traveled story about General Stanley McChrystal viewing a PowerPoint presentation on the complexity of the war in Afghanistan. The slide aimed at explaining the concept looked like a treasure hunt map for aliens, traversing the universe this way and that, with no set path. The General reportedly responded, “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.” As PowerPoint takes over the world of presentations, all are not fans of its entry into common overusage. Still, presentation experts believe PowerPoint need not be the devil in our presentations.
Venture capitalist and former Apple insider, Guy Kawasaki thinks presenters should heed his 10/20/30 rule. Ten slides because humans cannot absorb more than ten concepts in a meeting. Twenty minutes for your PowerPoint presentation because people are busy. They come late and leave early. Plus, being a fan of Apple, he says Windows computers take 40 minutes to work anyway, so there goes most of your one hour presentation time. Thirty point type because a jam-packed slide in ten-point type indicates a possible lack of focus and a definite lack of familiarity with the material. And you should heed his advice because he listens to numerous, lousy, 60-slide presentations – and he is bored. Note to self – don’t bore potential funding source.
Beyond PowerPoint, Alexandra Levit, who has an impressive speaking and writing resume has even more tips for a good presentation. Arrive early and test the audio-visual technology – to save yourself the previously mentioned 40 minutes. Provide notes to the one who introduces you so they don’t give away too much or tell too little. Interact with the audience. Ask rhetorical questions. Poll them – show of hands about your material. And more specifically, your speech should be carefully planned to have one major point and five sub-points.