Saturday, April 18, 2009

Looks like I hit a nerve with this PowerPoint thing

All this social media whoring is starting to pay off. Yesterday, I blogged about the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to PowerPoint group that I set up on Facebook, and got a pretty decent response. The Google Analytic numbers weren't staggering, but it was nice to see visits, reTweets and discussion involvement from complete strangers all over North America. That's what these wacky media are all about.

Another great thing was that my plea brought together Copywriters and other professional communicators from all over my local industry. Treesaw, a former colleague and now competitor, was kind enough to share VC superstar Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint:

It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. While I’m in the venture capital business, this rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.

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—and venture capitalists are very normal. (The only difference between you and venture capitalist is that he is getting paid to gamble with someone else’s money). If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business. The ten topics that a venture capitalist cares about are:

1. Problem
2. Your solution
3. Business model
4. Underlying magic/technology
5. Marketing and sales
6. Competition
7. Team
8. Projections and milestones
9. Status and timeline
10. Summary and call to action

Great stuff. Another link someone sent my way was a six-year-old Wired article by Edward Tufte that had the great subhead, "Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely." His points were mostly about data-driven presentations, but I think these words are still relevant to us all:

The practical conclusions are clear. PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.

On that note, after stretching the setup of a small joke Facebook group over two days of blogging, I'll respect your precious weekend time and sign off until Monday. Cheers!

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