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Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule of Presentation: Is It Still Relevant?

PowerPoint is a superb presentation tool, which, when used properly, can be an effective visual aid for professional speakers. However, at the hands of inexperienced presenters who have no eye for design, it can pave the way for jarring and unattractive slides. Sad to say, the world of business is teeming with mediocre pitch decks that just don’t do justice to the ability of PowerPoint as a great design tool. Luckily, there are people like Canva Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who can show the noobs how it should be done.

Kawasaki advocated the 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint, which banks on the idea that a presentation “should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.” Although Kawasaki originally meant it to be for entrepreneurs and startup business owners, this principle applies to all types of presentations. By following this guide, you can avoid basic design mistakes and ultimately stand out from the vast sea of lackluster presentations.

Why the 10-20-30 Rule Is Still Relevant Today

Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule is now more than a decade old—which, we can all agree, is a long time for any virtual rule to last, what with the constant and almost abrupt changes that technology makes. Although PowerPoint is still the most recognizable presentation design software in recent history, it’s no longer the only one in the book. A number of competitors have emerged, and they all have something relevant to offer. Apart from that, the way people use PowerPoint has also changed over time. What was invaluable ten years ago may not be as important today.

Now, this begs the question, “Does the 10-20-30 Rule still apply?” The answer to this is short and clear: YES. Here’s why.

1. Presenters still cram several ideas into one pitch deck

You’d think a lot would have changed in a decade. Well, in the case of slide design, nothing much has improved. Don’t get this wrong—agencies specializing in presentation design have emerged over the years, and they have indeed elevated the landscape. It’s the individual presenters who have not fully maximized the use of PowerPoint that still make the same mistakes. Despite professionals strongly advising against it, some presenters still cram multiple ideas into one pitch deck. They don’t even bother to filter out the unnecessary stuff and keep only the crucial points.

When Kawasaki first proposed the 10-20-30 Rule, he also suggested ten topics for the ten slides: the problem, the solution, the business model, the underlying technology, sales and marketing, the competition, the team, projections and milestones, status and timeline, and summary and call to action.

So, instead of filling each slide with unnecessary text, why not try to identify your salient points first and then make an outline based on them? Use as little text as possible to avoid overwhelming your audience with a barrage of ideas. If a slide isn’t necessary, do away with it. Remember, you are the star of your presentation, not the pitch deck or anything else. Make sure that all focus remains on you.

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2. People’s attention span is getting shorter

We’re in the age of social media, where the best content is short and fast, and people appreciate things that don’t take much of their time. Attention spans have become relatively shorter, to the point that people are growing more impatient and expectant—a combination that is hard to satisfy. This is why when delivering a presentation, you should always be considerate of your audience’s time and level of interest. Even if you’re given an hour to present, prepare for a speech that doesn’t last longer than twenty minutes. You can use the extra time for setting up your equipment or holding a Q&A session.

“But I have something extremely important to say!” you may argue. Well, that doesn’t give you any reason to go beyond the suggested time frame. Look at the universally-renowned TED talks for example. Speakers are expected to deliver their speeches in eighteen minutes or less, and that doesn’t stop them from communicating brilliant ideas that are worth sharing. If you have an imposed time constraint, you’ll be forced to edit your speech meticulously until it’s down to the bare necessities. Trim down all the unnecessary stuff so that you can put the essentials in the spotlight.

3. Readability is a crucial factor that’s still being sidelined

The number one rule of presentations is simple: The audience is the boss. Wherever you are in the presentation process, you should always put the audience at the forefront of your mind. For instance, what the people at the front row sees should be seen clearly by those in the back row as well. Optimize the font size of your text to accommodate all of your viewers. When you see people squinting at your slide, take the hint that something’s not right.

Another reason why the thirty-point-font rule should still be reinforced today is that it encourages you to limit the number of words you can put in each slide. As much as possible, don’t overload your slides with information. Remember that your goal is not to bombard your audience with ideas but to present them a few that can change their lives for the better.

Is the 10-20-30 Rule Absolute?

Kawasaki didn’t mean for the 10-20-30 Rule to be followed religiously by all business presenters. Instead, he set it as a guideline for people who want to improve their pitch decks, and consequently, their presentations. The fact remains that each situation is unique, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule that applies to all.

Instead of asking how many slides you should have, ask how many you need. Also, instead of going with the twenty-minute rule, why not apply the one-third rule, which suggests that the length of your speech should be one-third of the time you’re given? That is, after all, the original idea that Kawasaki proposed. Lastly, you can bend the thirty-point-font rule without breaking it. It’s only the minimum font size recommended, so you can go higher as the number of words you use per slide decreases. Ultimately, you should consider the needs of your audience instead of mindlessly jumping on the bandwagon. What works for one may not always work for you.

Twelve years later and Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule is still as effective as ever. If every presenter applies these three timeless guidelines, the landscape of presentation design will be infinitely better.

Resources:

Dlugan, Andrew. “The 10-20-30 Rule: Guy Kawasaki on PowerPoint.” Six Minutes. June 10, 2010. sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-20-30-rule-guy-kawasaki-powerpoint

Jonson, Laura. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint: Does It Still Work?” SlideShare. January 13, 2016. blog.slideshare.net/2016/01/13/the-102030-rule-of-powerpoint-does-it-still-work

Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” Guy Kawasaki. December 30, 2005. guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

“Follow the 10-20-30 Rule for a Perfect PowerPoint Presentation.” Presentation Load. October 17, 2013. blog.presentationload.com/follow-10-20-30-rule-perfect-powerpoint-presentation

The Presenter’s Guide to Hosting Engaging Webinars

In today’s world, distance is no longer an issue when it comes to effective communication. With web conferences or webinars, you no longer have to hop on a plane to sit in meetings with those in another time zone.

But there’s more to webinars than just talking in front of a webcam, especially if you want to share crucial information or leave a lasting impression. It’s important that you enhance your audience’s experience with a webinar PowerPoint deck.

When you’re presenting in front a live audience, you’re physically available to command their attention. Your PowerPoint slides serve a secondary purpose. However, when you’re presenting online, your webinar PowerPoint deck is the main attraction.

With that in mind, consider these specific tips to make sure that your webinar PowerPoint speaks through the computer screen.

The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The perks of hosting a webinar abound—that’s why businesses can’t get enough of it. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from using this marketing tool to your advantage:

  • Save on costs. No matter how big your company is, you still need to use your resources wisely. Webinars are a good investment because they don’t cost much. All you need is a stable internet connection to hold one and a few active online platforms to promote it.
  • Maximize time. Unlike in physical events like seminars or conferences, you don’t need months or weeks to prepare for a webinar. A few days of preparation would suffice. You can also save time from traveling since you can conduct a webinar from the comforts of your home or office. 
  • Repurpose content. Webinars are versatile tools for marketing. You can turn them into webcasts once the event is over. You can also repurpose webinar content into a blog post or website copy. If you’re able to record your sessions, you can keep them in your knowledgebase for future reference.
  • Eliminate physical barriers. One of the conveniences of hosting a webinar is that anyone can participate in it, regardless of location or time zone. Speakers are also free to interact with participants through real-time polls and chat boxes.
  • Get feedback. You can immediately gauge the success of your webinar by sending out a survey to the participants. The feedback can clue you in as to the strengths and weaknesses of your event.

Can a Webinar Help Reach Your Business Goals?

You’d think the answer to that question is an unwavering yes, but it actually depends on the goals you aim to achieve. While it’s true that webinars are an effective marketing tool, they only work in certain contexts. So, before planning one, make sure it will leave a positive impact on your business.

What exactly are webinars for? For one, they’re a good training and outreach tool. You can use them to share your expertise to your target audience. Webinars are also effective for getting the word out to your customers when rolling out a new product. When done right, it can help you move customers further down the sales funnel and reposition yourself as an industry thought leader.

Primary Goals and Purposes of Webinars

There are many reasons why marketers include webinars in their business efforts. The following are the three most important.

  • To educate customers. According to ClickMeeting, 85% of webinars are designed to educate existing and potential clients. If there’s one thing webinars should do, it’s to offer a novel perspective. They ought to satiate people’s desire to learn new things. Webinars are also a tool for businesses to solidify their credibility and establish themselves as experts in the field.
  • To promote brand awareness. The more successful your webinar is, the more people will learn about it. The louder the noise it makes, the more people will check it out. Hosting a webinar can expand your audience reach every time you bring something fresh and interesting to the table.
  • To generate/convert new business. The same infographic by ClickMeeting claimed that 77% of webinars are designed to attract new leads. With a successful webinar, you can reach more business prospects and cultivate them through the sales process.

Planning a Successful Webinar

Planning is a critical step in any type of campaign, including hosting webinars. To produce a successful experience, you need to lay out all the steps leading to the actual event. 

It might be tempting to jump straight to the promotion stage, especially if you have a winning topic and a celebrated speaker, but no excuse can justify skipping the planning part. 

Without a solid plan in place, you run the risk of delivering a lackluster presentation that’ll only prove to be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Before hosting a webinar, you need to find out first if there’s even a demand for it. 

Conduct a survey in your audience circle, and find out if enough people are interested to join your session. Once you’re sure that the audience likes this format, proceed to the preparation phase.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Craft the content. Kick off by briefly introducing yourself, the other speakers or panelists, and the companies involved. Tell the audience about the topic you’re going to tackle, and give them a preview of what’s going to happen. You should be able to grab their attention during the first few minutes. In the body of your content, present a maximum of three ideas that you can expound on. Finally, finish off with a memorable statement, a call to action, and a courtesy message for the participants.
  • Set the time and duration. Find out what works best for your attendees. If you’ve hosted webinars befor, take note of when people start to drop off (if they do) and plan accordingly. If you have foreign prospects, make sure that you find a common time that’s convenient for them and for the local participants.
  • Determine the panelists. Invite someone who can communicate the message best. You can collaborate with other brands to add greater value to your webinar. Have someone who is familiar with your content and who can help keep your presentation flowing smoothly. 
  • Prepare your tools. Obviously, you need technology to set up your event. Find a platform that can host your webinar, and make sure that your Internet connection is reliable enough to stream it. It’s also important to get a good phone headset, ideally a cordless one, so that you can stand up and move while talking. 
  • Create a landing page. Make sure it has sufficient details about the webinar to make the prospects excited about signing up. Include a registration form that requests information from your attendees. The most important fields are the name and e-mail address. You can also ask for the company they’re affiliated with. Any more than these three can make your prospects less likely to sign up.

Creating a Presentation that Speaks through the Screen

The Structure

It’s important that your webinar PowerPoint follows a structure with a logical flow. Begin with a quick introduction, delve in the main body of your topic, and end with a concise conclusion.

  • Introduction: Include slides introducing yourself and other presenters in the webinar. Include a picture and relevant credentials so your audience can feel like they’re not just talking to a computer screen. It’s also useful if you can include a slide that explains the logistics of your webinar.
  • Body: The body of your webinar PowerPoint deck will depend on the topic you’re discussing. Whatever it is, keep your discussion clear but brief. Stick to discussing only one point at a time. There are plenty of ways to arrange the body of your webinar PowerPoint, just make sure that each point is structured into main segments.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion of your webinar PowerPoint should be short and sweet. Don’t drag it out by repeating everything you said before. Instead, create a slide that summarizes your main points. To encourage your audience to participate in a discussion, include an action plan or a call-to-action question.

Design for Audience Engagement

Your webinar PowerPoint should be efficiently designed for online sharing. Lags in your presentation look unprofessional and can be frustrating — and disengaging — for your audience.

Opt for a simpler, sleeker design. As always, avoid using too much text and bullet points. Most importantly, avoid using huge picture files, videos, and animations which might cause problems for connectivity. This doesn’t mean you should go completely without graphics. Just make sure the file sizes aren’t too large or are compressed before sharing. 

Consider the following when designing your webinar PowerPoint deck:

  • When explaining something that requires several steps, consider making use of “build” slides. This is a type of animation that allows you to reveal a slide bit by bit as you talk. Breaking content up with build slides is key for keeping virtual audiences engaged. Here’s an example:
  • Visualizing data properly is paramount for engaging all audiences, but even more so for online audiences. Make sure the visualizations you use tie in to your narrative and overarching message for maximum effect.
  • A Harvard Department of Psychology study showed that people tend to characterize presentations with animation as quantifiably more “dynamic, visually compelling, and distinctive. Make sure you’re doing it right.
  • Make use of PowerPoint’s SmartArt graphics to illustrate key points without having to use complicated images.
  • For the background of your slides, opt for a solid color or gradient effect. Lower quality images might not be big enough to fill the entire background. And if you resize them, your background will look distorted and pixelated.

Tips for Hosting a Successful Webinar Experience

1) Make It Personal

Speaking to a computer screen won’t engage your virtual audience. Talk through the slides to present and persuade people as if they were there in person. Don’t let your monitor hinder you from successfully delivering your webinar. Instead, make your talk personal as if doing a one-on-one conversation with a close friend or colleague.

2) Be Creative

Virtual audiences are more likely to wander off and multi-task while listening to your online conference. No matter how good your speaking skills are, they can still get bored with your discussion. Keep them engaged by incorporating creative visuals in your deck. Use a combination of interactive images, questions, and short video clips to catch their focus and heighten their interest in your business presentation.

3) Use Effective Pauses

Hosting a webinar is much like public speaking – it requires appropriate pauses and pacing. Effective, short pauses allow you to steadily control the discussion’s flow. You can use noticeable silences to give your listeners a chance to think about what you’ve just said. Choose a healthy pace so you don’t look like you’re rushing through your entire presentation.

4) Avoid Filler Words

Most speakers use filler words “uh,” “um,” and “you know” to make everything they say one long sentence.This presentation habit is also a big taboo when delivering a webinar. Keep these words to a minimum to not alienate your audience from you and your message. This can cause a big dent in your credibility, and should definitely be avoided.

Conclusion

Once you’ve hosted your own webinar, you’ll understand why it’s considered by many businesses as an effective customer acquisition channel. Webinars offer the perfect platform for attracting new leads and nurturing existing client relationships to a more responsive level.

Follow these presentation tips to facilitate effective learning and engagement across varied online audiences, and give your business a higher profile.

Need assistance on your webinar PowerPoint presentation? Schedule a free consultation now.

How Repurposing Presentations Can Boost Content Marketing Efforts

A lot of time and resources can be spent crafting beautiful and effective presentations.

After all, they’re the cornerstone of sales and marketing efforts—and made right, are highly effective in driving success.

But we don’t just mean in slide deck format. Because whether it’s a presentation that gets used frequently or not, hidden inside it is a treasure trove of additional content possibilities. 

They just need to be teased out.

Repurposing presentations is a great strategy any business can take advantage of.

Don’t worry, it’s not lazy or unoriginal to reuse good content. On the contrary. It actually offers your business tremendous benefits! 

You’ll get consistency across collateral and conserve your marketing budget for other important projects. Plus, you’ll have assets at-the-ready, enabling you to roll out marketing efforts quicker and with better consistency. 

The key is in repurposing presentations properly, which this posts addresses.

Use Individual Slides as Images

If your presentation was designed with best practices in mind, it’s sure to have more than a few visually appealing slides.

Don’t be afraid to take these individual slides out of the deck and use them as images alongside other marketing collateral.

Images for Blog Posts

Blog posts are a great example. 

If your deck has a slide about product benefits, use it as a visual aid for a blog post about that product.

Adding visual elements like images and videos (more on videos later) to blog posts enhances reader experience.

Just like for presentations, visual aids increase engagement, reinforce concepts (when done correctly), and ultimately keep readers reading — remember, the length of time readers spend on your posts is one of the most important SEO signals search engines pay attention to.

For example, you can see how the second slide in the following Zillow presentation could be re-purposed as a supporting image for a blog post covering the top real estate markets:

Images for Product & Service Pages

The purpose of a marketing presentation is to sell and the same goes for the product/service pages or landing pages on your website. 

Taking a few benefits-driven slides from the deck and using them as visuals on these types of web pages is the perfect way to capture visitor intrigue and answer basic questions.

One way to do this is to transform individual slides into a beautiful downloadable sell sheet and offer it on pertinent product or services pages to measure user intent.

The best part about this is that your slide deck is already branded, making them a seamless fit for your website.

Images for Social Media Posts & Promotional Ad Campaigns

Another great place to use slides as images is on social media. 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all visually-driven platforms (and we all know that posts with images and videos see much higher engagement rates than text-based posts). 

The right presentation slides can be a quick and easy way to populate your feed with social-ready graphics. They convey meaningful messaging in a branded way—all you need to do is come up with snappy post copy and crop the images appropriately.

For example, with a bit of editing, any one of the following slides could be used as Caterpillar’s LinkedIn “pinned” post, which the company isn’t taking advantage of (at least at the time this article was published):

The pinned post can link to a case study, a blog post on Caterpillar’s recent social responsibility efforts, an industry guide…you get the idea.

Heck, even Caterpillar’s LinkedIn cover photo can be revamped using the first slide in the group above.

Don’t forget about PPC and social ads, too. 

Whether you’re running a brand awareness campaign or retargeting to existing customers, branded and benefits-driven visuals will boost the success of your ad campaign. Just keep in mind that some social media platforms (Facebook especially) don’t like text-heavy ad images, so you’ll probably need to make some edits to the slides first.

Convert Your Presentation into a Beautiful Infographic (or collection of infographics)

A good slide deck conveys everything a person needs to know about a topic.

If you’re pitching a product or service, the deck will have robust data and analysis to project these benefits to people. 

This type of data is also ideal for infographics.

You may not realize it, but your presentation likely already includes the building blocks for an infographic (or two). 

Go through a deck and start pulling out slides, data and graphics that tell a story—then, consolidate them into a beautiful and informative infographic.

Start with one big infographic. This one might take a little scrolling on the part of a customer, but it’ll be worth it! A comprehensive infographic will tell them everything they need to know about your industry, product, service, or brand story in one condensed image. 

There’s no need for a 30-slide deck—a 30-second infographic can sum it all up.

Bite-sized infographics are also valuable. Pick a point and create a smaller infographic that harps on this one facet of the presentation. These mini infographics are great for social sharing, email blasts, and ad buys. They’re digestible in seconds and make a bold statement in just as little time.

Whether you create a big, engaging infographic or parcel presentation data out into smaller concepts, the goal is the same: Lead generation. Infographics are great lead-gen tools, and they’re readily borne from a well-made sales and marketing presentation.

Here are some great examples of infographics crafted from information in presentations:

Convert Your Presentation into an Engaging Video

Slide decks are almost videos as-is. 

Think about the difference between manually clicking through slides and having them play automatically every 8-10 seconds, with a transition in-between. That’s a video! 

It sounds cheesy, but actually has a ton of practical applications.

Company Lobby Videos

Do the TV screens in your lobby need a content refresh?

If any of your presentations illustrate your company’s origin story, purpose or values, convert it into a video and add it to the content carousel that’s running in your company lobby.

Here’s an example of a a video created from re-purposed slides. You can see how it could be used as an “About Us” video in a company communal or waiting area:

Convert a Webinar Deck into a Video

Remember that slideshow you used for that educational webinar?

Record the voiceover, sync it up to the slideshow in a video, and:

  • disseminate it in a customer newsletter
  • upload it to a video-sharing site (like YouTube and Wistia), or
  • “gate” it behind a lead-generation offer (if it’s valuable enough) and advertise it on social media

The possibilities are truly endless.

Share on Video-sharing Sites

As stated above, whatever you decide to do with your video, make sure to upload it to sites like YouTube (you’ll reap the SEO benefits from the world’s second-largest search engine), Vimeo, Wistia, and other video-sharing sites for easy and extra exposure.

Internal Training Videos

The same goes for a training video for internal teams. 

With videos, people can pause, rewind and play at half or double speed in video format, making it easier to follow along and retain information.

Product/Service Videos

Another great slideshow-to-video idea is to extract individual slides and combine them into a targeted short video for a product or service page. 

These videos don’t have to be more than 30 seconds and can play automatically alongside product listings, in social feeds, or in standalone video ads.

Social Media “Stories

Finally, there’s social media to consider. 

Video is huge on social platforms! Facebook and Instagram in particular reward video content with more exposure, which can bring much-needed attention to your product. 

Adding these short product videos to the “stories” feature of these platforms only serves to increase exposure to them.

Convert Your Presentation into a Free (or Lead-Generating) eBook

On-the-go readers appreciate having access to downloadable content they can take with them and read on their own time.

That’s why eBooks and guides are still popular content assets.

So, take the slides you’ve already designed, combine them with existing blog posts on the same topic, and bring them together in an informative eBook!

Naturally, the most useful eBooks or guides will come from presentations that are more “educational” in nature. For example, if your CEO recently gave a keynote presentation on the trends of the industry your company operates in, this is perfect content to be re-purposed into a beautiful downloadable industry report.

eBooks don’t have to be long—under 10 pages is common, and they’re great for showcasing your expertise, improving brand exposure, and establishing you as a credible resource.

Offer an eBook for free on your website as supporting content or charge a small fee on Amazon Kindle (only if the content is valuable enough!) for people to tap into that knowledge. 

Finally, consider offering it as a free download after someone provides their email address. It’s a tried and true lead-gen solution that’ll help you capitalize on your marketing collateral.

Here’s an excerpt from an eBook we created from a slide deck on data visualization:

You can download the full eBook here.

Integrate the Presentation into Print Materials

The options for repurposing a presentation are endless when it comes to print materials. 

Slides can easily become part of brochures, flipbooks, direct mail pieces, postcards, handouts, rack cards and just about anything else. 

Depending on your audience and the message you’re trying to send, a single deck could yield several rounds of print collateral!

Make the Most of Your Presentations!

If you’ve designed your presentations effectively, the content from them can (and should) live on long after the presentation has ended.

Smart marketers will realize the potential of the material and adapt it to other efforts, creating consistent, coherent messaging.

Use the ‘rule of three’ as an example. A piece of content should have a minimum three uses before it’s retired:

  • Presentation → infographic → social post, or
  • Presentation → blog post → eBook

No matter the collateral you create or how you use it, make sure it originates from your well-designed presentations. 

The Overwhelmed Creative Team: A Cautionary “Design Ops” Tale

Back in 2011, fresh out of college, I worked for an advertising agency in New York City as an account manager.

It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

One of my responsibilities was overseeing the creation of my clients’ pitch decks, which — unsurprisingly — weren’t considered “mission critical” deliverables for the creative team.

There was never time to be idle; we were always on the go, brainstorming, producing content, and running to client meetings. The job was stressful but we were fortunate to have the right people that were easy to work with, passionate, and fun.

Over the next year though, the team began to thin. Some members left for bigger opportunities, others were poached by competing agencies, and some even started their own businesses.

Eventually, most of our veterans in the creative department were gone and the empty seats were filled with junior art directors and copywriters. 

I remember being worried about how things would unfold without some of the key employees I had come to rely on. Everyone had to step up. 

And for a while, everything ran smoothly. But as the agency grew and workloads increased, our internal design processes began to break down.

The creative team — consisting mostly of junior employees — were overwhelmed with pitch deck projects. At one point, they were unable to handle one of the decks assigned to them.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

As the account manager, I had to keep things moving and decided to just make the deck myself. 

Never did I think creating the PowerPoint deck would stress me out. After all, I’d used the tool for years to present my school reports and projects. The pre-loaded animations were there for the choosing and I knew I could find some cool-looking pre-designed templates somewhere online and simply visit YouTube for “design hack” tutorials.

Boy was I wrong.

See, the problem is that we’ve all worked with PowerPoint for years (even decades) and we trick ourselves into thinking we know enough.

Think about that for a moment.

That’s basically saying because we’ve driven cars since we were 16 years old, we feel comfortable with how the machine works.

In reality, most of us only know how to get from Point A to Point B (in most cases), and keep ourselves comfortable along the way.

We don’t know how to make the car more fuel efficient, or give it more horsepower to make it faster, or how to adjust the shocks for more on-road comfort or off-road capability—things that would undoubtedly benefit us in our week-to-week (depending on one’s lifestyle of course).

Instead, we use the same vehicle in its original configuration until it’s time to move on—because that’s what we’re used to.

If you think about it, that’s basically the same as downloading a pre-designed template that appears suitable, uploading content, and then hitting the proverbial gas pedal.

I felt I knew enough about PowerPoint to make the pitch deck acceptable.

Let’s be clear: when the goal for any project is “acceptable,” it’s safe to assume—in this day and age—it probably won’t move any needles in the right direction.

To no-one’s surprise, I came up with an almost plain deck with cheesy animations. You know, your typical box-in, appear, dissolve-type effects—stuff that causes Death by PowerPoint and makes you look old.

Fortunately, my presentation skills were good enough to outshine my unoriginal slides and the materials my creative team came up with were downright beautiful. 

But just seeing how the deck came out was a humbling experience. It was definitely something I was not proud of. I used to be so giddy presenting with the spectacular decks that our creative team came up with, but for this presentation, my deck was as good as just writing on the board with a marker

Heck, a whiteboard session might have even been more engaging than what I came up with. What’s worse is I could’ve had more hours to sleep and focus on what I was going to say rather than spend so much time on the deck.

The lesson here is pretty clear: we aren’t necessarily experts when we’ve done something many times, and just knowing “enough” is never good enough in high stakes environments like sales presentations, boardroom meetings, and keynote speeches (among others).

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on four key factors: 

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

3) The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck), and

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: your audience’s level of engagement

Thankfully, I had the first one—but imagine what my team could have accomplished if we had all four!

Apply the 10/20/30 Rule to Your PowerPoint Presentations Now

Guy Kawasaki is a successful venture capitalist who has been writing books about the trade since 1987.

A few years back, he wrote a short blog advocating a simple rule for PowerPoint & pitch deck presentations. He called it the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.

According to the 10/20/30 rule:

…a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.

Kawasaki came up with this quick presentation style due to his line of business, citing how he’d often listen to dozens of pitches in a short period of time.

However, even if you’re not in the venture capital business, the 10/20/30 rule can still be applicable to your goals.

Given people’s increasingly shortening attention spans, keeping your presentation compact can save all of you time while still getting the meat of your message across.

Here we expound on each of Kawasaki’s points. But first, the 10/20/30 Rule in his own words:

Rule #1: 10 Slides

Kawasaki pointed out that it’s challenging to comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting.

Most people assume that you need to be highly detailed in order to be impressive, but this isn’t always the case.

The 10/20/30 rule also suggests that you use the ten slides to tackle all the topics important to your audience. For a venture capitalist, these topics are the following:

  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

Use this list as a guide when you’re trying to condense your presentations into neat, salient points.

Depending on the type of presentation you’re giving, you can tweak these to fit your purpose, but try to keep your slides to a minimum, with a visible flow like the one above.

Rule #2: 20 Minutes

You should be done with your ten-slide presentation in twenty minutes.

Kawasaki would often allot an hour to hear an entrepreneurial pitch, but most of the time gets lost in other things. (For instance, your laptop might take a while to sync with the projector.)

Emergencies might also pull your audience away from the meeting. It’s best to keep your presentation short so that you’ll also have time to address questions and other concerns.

Rule #3: 30-pt Font Size

Kawasaki observed that the only reason people used smaller font sizes is to be able to cram huge chunks of text into a slide.

In doing so, your audience may perceive that you’re not familiar with the material and that you’re using the PowerPoint as a teleprompter.

The 10/20/30 rule forces you to use a larger font, so you can cut back on unnecessary details. Remember: you’re the one who has to do the talking, not your PowerPoint presentation.

10 slides in 20 minutes using a font no smaller than 30 points. Easy enough, right?

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Featured Image: Lostium Project via Flickr

The Hows of Concise Presentations

Technology gives easy access to information and a more convenient way of living.

These benefits, however, have disadvantages, including impatience, shorter attention spans.

As the average attention span gets shorter, you should capture and hold their focus. One way is to ensure that those blocks of text are condensed and concise.

Let’s look at the following principles according to the Writing Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

Make It Action-Packed

Make your PowerPoint slide design more engaging by transforming your sentences from having a passive voice to a more active voice. This minimizes the confusion and frustrations.

Trim the Fat

Delete unnecessary words. And start with phrases.

Instead of “we are able to” change it to “we can.” Remove length and keep its meaning.

Positivity Is Key

According to Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, another tip to make your language more precise is by changing a negative sentence into an affirmative one. Inserting positivity in your sentence makes it assertive and shows the speaker knows what they are talking about.

Quoting The Elements of Style, “…the reader is dissatisfied with being told what is not; he wishes to be told what is.”

Keep It Simple

Another way for people to keep their attention to what you’re saying and showing is by using simple vocabulary to convey your point.

The best practice is to make sure that you keep things as simple as possible for your target audience. Don’t confuse them. For example, you can substitute “use” for “utilize” or “help” for “facilitate.” Be direct and avoid fluff.

Be Clear

Avoid using vague ideas in your paragraphs. It’s better to go straight to the point since you’re trying to give your point before the audience’s attention wanders.

“Sugar is an important factor to consider when losing weight.”

“To lose weight, cut back on sugar.”

The first sentence meanders while the second one is compact and straight to the point.

Once you have your content pat down, you may now format your slides for a cleaner look.

Make Your Presentation the Best

You may even get in touch with businesses that build custom PowerPoint slides. At SlideGenius, we’ve been helping people create captivating presentations since 2012. We’ve helped our clients raise more than $500 million dollars over the years.

For thousands of clients, we have proven to be the masters of storytelling and vivid imagery. If you’re eager to make sure your PowerPoint presentation is the best, reach out to us and find out how we can help you make sure you are showing the world your value.

Public Speaking 101: Should You Read from a Script or Not?

There are four ways to deliver a speech: reciting it from memory, learning it by heart, using notes for reference, and reading it from a script word for word. The method you should use will depend on the type of speaking engagement and the personal circumstances you find yourself in.

Memorizing your speech is rarely a good idea because the artificiality of it makes your delivery sound stilted. You may risk sounding monotonous when the natural inflection of your voice disappears. Also, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll deliver a seamless presentation because your focus is shifted from getting the message across to getting the words right.

Learning your speech by heart and trying to wing it without notes can work. However, it can be risky because when you lose your train of thought, you’ll have nothing to rely on to get you back on track. The best method is to use notes because at least you have something to fall back on when you lose your footing. It can also help you transition from one idea to the next.

While learning all this is good, we’re not really here to talk about the three ways of delivering a presentation. Instead, we’re here to understand the fourth: reading directly from a script. Script reading is a practice that is highly discouraged, unless you’re a person of politics who needs to deliver a speech exactly as it’s written. If you’re a student delivering a report or a business executive making a pitch, there’s no excuse for you to read from your notes at all. This is a basic public speaking convention that you should know by default.

Why Reading from a Script Is Discouraged

You may be tempted to bring a script to your next public speaking gig and read it word for word. It’s luring because you don’t have to memorize or learn your speech by heart anymore. Everything you have to say is literally in your hands. It makes you feel secure because, in theory, you can’t lose your train of thought. It’s effortless preparation-wise. So, if it’s so reassuring, why do professionals advise against it? There are plenty of reasons, and we’ll explain three of them:

  • A written speech rarely translates to an oral discussion. We don’t speak the same way as we write. Words that are written for the eye (i.e. grammatical, syntactic, generally well-structured) don’t always sound well to the ears. If you want to sound conversational, you need to write the same way as you talk.
  • A script shifts attention from the audience. Reading from a script requires you to look at your notes, and this shifts your gaze away from the audience and limits your interaction with them. As a result, your delivery loses the personal touch it needs. You’re basically just standing there aloof, with your audience feeling left out. They feel like they’re listening to a monologue rather than taking part in a dialogue in which their opinions matter.
  • Your words and actions are measured and limited. A script limits both your words and actions. You’re not free to use whatever manner of delivery you like because you’re corralled into the four edges of your cheat sheet. Aside from this, reading from a script can add a physical barrier between you and the audience: a lectern. This barrier will only fortify the walls you’ve built, ultimately resulting to a disconnect.

Planning for the Inevitable: Tips When Reading Your Speech

Without a doubt, no matter how many times you’re warned, you’ll always find an excuse to deviate from what’s recommended. So, to help you minimize the repercussions of reading from a script during a public speaking engagement, here are four tips for you to apply:

1. Employ the scoop-and-speak technique

For this to work, you need to print your notes in large font and have them written on the top portion of a document so that your eyes don’t have to stray down too far. Every time you pause, look at your notes, and before reciting what you’ve scooped, look at the audience again. Eye contact is crucial in public speaking. When reading from your notes, you don’t have to keep it a secret and act surreptitiously. Just chill out and act natural.

2. Draft a dialogue, not a declaration

Even if you’re reading from a script, you should try to not look like it. When drafting your speech, make sure to use common conversational words that sound natural when spoken. Use informal language; otherwise, you’ll just sound foreign and distant. Be mindful of the natural cadences and rhythms of spontaneous speech, and make sure to apply them throughout your presentation. To improve your vocal variety, you can adjust your facial gestures to match your words.

3. Don’t use your slide deck as a script

Your PowerPoint presentation is not a script, so don’t treat it as such. Instead, make separate notes that you can use as guide. You can also use the Notes feature in PowerPoint. It has a Presenter’s View that can let you see your notes for a selected slide without the audience seeing them. Just make sure to practice using your script beforehand so that you won’t get lost in the middle of the presentation.

4. Mind the structuring of your text

Break long blocks of text by using headings, subheadings, line breaks, and pauses. Use signals to help you break down the text and cue you as to where to begin and end, or what to stress and blend. You can even add instructional annotations along the margins to make everything crystal clear.

When you’re in a pickle and you have no choice but to read from a script, follow the tips above. However, in any other situation, try to explore other ways of delivering your presentation. Don’t limit yourself to the four edges of a page. Instead, allow your mind to roam free without straying too far from your core message. This is, after all, what being an effective public speaker means.

Resources:

Dlugan, Andrew. “How to Make Reading a Speech Not Like Reading a Speech.” Six Minutes. December 7, 2011. sixminutes.dlugan.com/reading-your-speech

Marshall, Lisa B. “Read, Memorize, or Use Notes.” Quick and Dirty Tips. September 23, 2010. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/read-memorize-or-use-notes

Matthews, Alan. “Pros and Cons of Using a Script When Speaking.” Alan Matthews Training. May 13, 2015. alanmatthewstraining.com/2015/05/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-script-when-speaking

Wyeth, Sims. “Do You Read from a Script? Should You” Presentation Guru. April 20, 2017. www.presentation-guru.com/do-you-read-from-a-script-should-you

3D Backgrounds: Adding Depth and Dimension to Your Prezi

What else can you do to enhance your audience’s visual experience? Aside from customizing your prezi, is there any other way to add something more to your presentations? For this week’s Prezi Feature, we take a closer look at 3D backgrounds. 

One of the many advantages of Prezi is the flexibility it offers. Unlike linear slide presentations, the prezi canvas offers vast space for storytelling. With Prezi, you’re free to transition from one point to another and follow any narrative structure you want. You can also add depth and dimension to your presentations. Give your visual metaphors a whole life of its own with 3D backgrounds.

3D backgrounds can give your visuals a more dynamic look. Prezi makes use of “parallax motion” to create a 3D-like effect as you move around the canvas. With this feature, your background automatically adjusts when you transition along the path. If you layer multiple images in the background, you get a cross fade effect as you zoom in and out of frames.

Check this presentation to see how it all works:

prezi 3d backgrounds sample

 

How do I add 3D backgrounds to my prezi?

3d backgrounds 03

You can add 3D backgrounds through the Theme Wizard. Access the “Customize” sidebar and look for the “Advanced” option at the very bottom. From there, all you have to do is upload your own images via the 3D Background “Edit” button.

3d backgrounds 01

You can have up to 3 different background layers. Drag and drop the thumbnails to arrange them in the order you prefer.

What tips should I keep in mind?

While working with 3D backgrounds, take note of these four things:

  • Image Size: Make sure your image is at least 3000 pixels wide. Any smaller and your background images might look pixelated once you zoom in your prezi. Be wary of your file size, as well. Larger files might cause your prezi to lag or crash. If your image file is too big, Prezi will automatically ask to resize it.

3d backgrounds 04

  • Similar Images: Since the layers change with a cross fading effect, opt for similar-looking images. If you don’t want to distract the audience, any variation between the 3 images shouldn’t look too jarring.

3d backgrounds 05
markus spiske (Flickr)

  • Readable Content: Keep your content readable by working with simple images. In other words, choose images with plenty of white space and aren’t too “busy”. You can also make use of shapes or the highlighter tool to create contrast between your text and background.

3d backgrounds 06

  • Zooming In and Out: When arranging your content, zoom in and out to transition from one layer to another. Try not to place anything in between transitions. Just keep zooming in until the image becomes clear.

3d backgrounds 07

Learn more by viewing this tutorial by Meaghan Hendricks, a presentation designer at Prezi.

Enhance your visual metaphors by showing depth and dimension in your presentations. Experiment with 3D backgrounds and you can improve your audience’s prezi experience.

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Featured Image: Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo / Prezi logo via Wikimedia Commons