Last week I did a couple of presentations (on Community Building and Competitive Intelligence) at WebmasterWorld’s Pubcon, and caught the opening keynote session by Guy Kawasaki. Guy is a funny and engaging speaker, and a good choice to kick off a conference that covers a broad range of marketing, business, and tech issues. In Guy’s allotted hour, he covered a variety of topics, ranging from anecdotes from his Apple days to what makes a great business idea. A good keynote speaker’s job is usually to entertain and perhaps inspire – one doesn’t expect much in the way of business “takeaways” from keynoters. That’s not a bad thing, just a reflection of the usual role of a general speaker in a very specific conference. One point that some other Pubcon presenters would have done well to make note of, though, was his 10/20/30 rule for PowerPoint presentations.
This presentation advice, covered in more detail in Guy’s blog post, The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, was originally directed at entrepreneurs pitching venture capitalists. I think it applies to lots of other presentation situations, too. According to Guy, VCs may allocate an hour of time to hear out a company seeking funding, and all too often the entrepreneurs bring presentations with dozens of slides (60 slides would allow a minute per slide) crammed with way too much data. His recommendation is to use 10 slides, cover the slides in 20 minutes (leaving 40 minutes for discussion, or, he suggests, for getting the Windows laptop to work with the projector), and to use no font smaller than 30 points.
In the course of the conference, I heard at least one speaker blame Guy for his spending the previous evening redoing his presentation. Quite a few others didn’t make the effort, and forced their audience to squint at tiny type or, worse, read along with them.
For just about any kind of presentation, Guy’s rules are good ones – obviously, the time may vary depending on the circumstances, and the number of slides may go up or down, but the key point is to reduce one’s visuals to a skeleton of the presentation – the speaker will add the flesh to it, and the subsequent discussion will add the animation. If you find yourself introducing a slide with, “This one may be a bit hard for some of you to read,” it’s time to hit the delete key and replace that slide with something that the octogenarian in the back row won’t have difficulty with.
Now that the rush of Pubcon is over, I’ll try to cover more of Guy’s insights, along with those of fellow keynoter John Battelle, and some of the interesting panel discussions.