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Monday, January 02, 2006

Guy Kawasaki On Making Effective Presentations

In my experience, I have always found it the toughest to create simple, brief, direct presentation material for slides - ironically these are the most sought after attributes of effective presentations. One of my boss used to emphasise that a presentaiton need to be well packed and should come out with the pressure of water hose from a fire engine - to emphasise brevity and effective communication - an advise that I hold so dearly that I remember it everytime I work on a slide. Guy Kawasaki, silicon valley's legend is also known for his widely read advise for entrepreneurs and also recently for his art of the start series - now emphasizes the need to keep powerpoints simple and focussed . Garr Reynolds known for his generous praise of Steve Jobs, after careful assessment views Guy Kawasaki as presenter extraordinaire.Steve, Guy & Garr all have an Apple connection. In what Guy call as the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint – he outlines that PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. As he sees it, ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting. He illustrates this with a ten point theme for a pitch to a VC. In a perfect world, one could get to make a pitch in twenty minutes, and have forty minutes left for discussion. Strongly coming out against using normal text and reading it - where listeners can read ahead of the presenter putting both out of synch. He suggests using fonts above thirty points ( quite sensible – look at Tom Peter’s Slides - in particular the emphasis on font sizes, though the number of slides could be more. Guy suggests a funny algorithm - find out the age of the oldest person in the audience and divide it by two. That’s the optimal font size. Guy is speaking sense here – any presentation should help the audience to focus on presenter’s words, face, and personality...this makes content far more accessible – Look at his keynote presentation for the WOMMA 2005 summit - clearly a live example of practising what he preaches. I cannot underemphasize the need to make effective presentations – Earlier – I wrote about Lessig method of presentation, and also see Steve Jobs lovely presentations. Clearly one of the top most instrument in today’s professional life – the ability to create simple, brief but highly effective presentations.

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