Advanced Presentation Techniques

A few weeks ago I attended a presentation with an excessive amount of Powerpoint slides. After one hour, the speaker announced he was done: Polite, yet un-enthusiastic applause ensued, and there was a visible sigh of relief from the audience. It was a rather painful experience, both for the speaker and for the listeners.

As a presenter you will face audiences with an ever shorter attention span. Especially when you have to pitch your ideas to impatient executives and restless decision makers, you need a powerful strategy to pass this challenge successfully. An effective technique is to use the rules of 30-20-10-1.

These rules are as follows:

  • Rule of 30. Most likely you will use slides. This rule dictates that the minimum font size in your slides should be 30. (This font size is derived by dividing the age of the oldest participant in your audience by two. With 60-year-old executives in your audience, your minimum font size should therefore be 30.) When text in your slides is BIG you are forced to use few words to communicate the essentials.
  • Rule of 20. You should use a maximum of 20 minutes to pitch your idea. After this time you will undoubtedly be brutally interrupted and lose control of your presentation, which isn’t necessarily a big problem if you have communicated your main points in the first 20 minutes. 
  • Rule of 10. Your total presentation should be a maximum of ten slides, with additional slides allocated to the appendix.
  • Rule of 1.  This rule covers the most important slide in your 10-slide deck, the executive summary, which contains what you want your audience to knowfeel and do after the presentation.

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/Chinnapong

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