“If you must use more than 10 slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business.” – Silicon Valley Author and Venture Capitalist Guy Kawasaki.

“The number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months.” –  Moore’s Law.

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Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule for PowerPoint presentations may not have the lasting power and global prominence of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s “Law” for the expected growth of semiconductor complexity.

Having acknowledged the obvious, Kawasaki’s rule does provide guidance for using presentation graphics to make a persuasive case to critical audiences.

Kawasaki recommends 10 slides; 20 minutes; 30-point font or above. There is a beauty in the simplicity of this rule.

One must wonder why so many rebel against this wisdom.

Sitting through more New York and San Francisco investor conference presentations than I care to remember in my Silicon Valley days, there was a War of the PowerPoints.

Companies were dueling each other with dazzling colors, impressive content and how many graphics could be jammed into a 30-minute time slot to extol their respective technology bits, bytes, bells and whistles. In short order, these presentations started to resemble real estate tours with each one-story ranch-style house with vaulted ceilings looking the same as every other one-story ranch-style house with vaulted ceilings.

Eventually these conference-sponsoring, sell-side companies rebelled (e.g., Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley)  against the so-called Death by PowerPoint. No more PowerPoints …replacing them with FDR-style ”Fire Side Chats.”

Instead of curing the problem, the sell-side folks killed the patient. There were no more projected-onto-the-screen facts and figures for the audience to chew on. Instead there was an overpaid analyst quizzing a grossly overcompensated CFO about a myriad of gross margin, operating margin, cap-ex, R&D, SG&A numbers and percentages without any visual aid for the struggling audience.

Was that 15 percent growth or 50 percent growth?

No bueno.

Reflecting back on my trips to Tokyo with the Semiconductor Industry Association and LSI Logic, I was fascinated by how much detail our Japanese colleagues in particular could pack onto each PowerPoint slide.

Some of these slides reminded me about the bewildering grid of the Tokyo subway system regardless of whether it was in Kanji or English. Both, the PowerPoint slide and the Tokyo subway grid, resembled a plate of spaghetti with meat balls, tomato sauce and parmesan to make the picture even more complicated.

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There was a message in these PowerPoints begging to be released, but it was trapped in the barbed wire of complexity.

Fast forwarding to our present information overload society, PR/Marketing/IR pros are even more challenged than ever to break through the competing noise and deliver messages that resonate with low-attention span, easily bored and constantly distracted target audiences.

Is Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule perfect for all situations? Almost DailyBrett will let the reader make that determination.

There is no doubt this rule is far better than what is informally called, PR Agency Disease. What is this contagious malady, and how should avoid this addictive carcinogen?

Let’s say an agency is competing against seven others in responding to a huge multi-billion corporate client’s RFP (Request for Proposal) “cattle call.” The client has generously allotted 80 minutes for an agency presentation.

The agency responds with six speakers … no let’s make that eight speakers … and 60 PowerPoint slides … oops, we need 64 PowerPoint slides. Even someone with zero math acumen knows the number of presenters and the diarrhea of slides does not correspond with the time set aside for the presentation. One of the symptoms of PR Agency Disease is the insistence by the agency types to talk about themselves and not the potential client.

Approximately one week or more after this 64-slide (no typo) orgy with the potential client having virtually zero opportunity to ask questions, the competing agency finds out it was not selected. There is anguish. There are fingers pointed internally. Someone must be held responsible. Here’s the solution:

There were not enough PowerPoint slides. When in doubt: Add more slides to the presentation.

As a venture capitalist, Kawasaki, and his colleagues have sat through more PowerPoint (and conceivably Prezi) presentations than they would care to count. Obviously, some are better than others.

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Likewise students have endured PowerPoint-assisted lectures (including my musings), which brings to mind the research by University of Oklahoma Professor L.D. Fink. His findings indicate that approximately 15 minutes into a lecture, 10 percent of the audience is showing signs of inattention, and after 35 minutes everyone is inattentive. Fink concluded that as the length of a lecture increases, the proportion of material remembered by students’ decreases.

When one contemplates Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule, one pictures the ubiquitous service club luncheon. There is the pre-lunch grip-and-grin, followed by the rubber-chicken entrée covered by a mysterious sauce, the 20-minute presentation by the invited speaker, the obligatory Q&A and followed by Rotarians, Optimists, Lions, Tigers and Bears etc. glancing at their watches to get back to the office.

The general rule for PowerPoints is two minutes per-slide with some taking less than that time and some taking more.  This simplistic math translates into 10 slides for 20 minutes.

Keep in mind the poor folks in the back of the room have to be able to read the slide, and that’s where the 30-point font comes into play.

And if you can add a photo, pie or bar chart or caricature to graphic without complicating the message all the better.

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Here’s to hoping that Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule matches Moore’s Law in terms of longevity and influence. Maybe, there will even be a museum dedicated to the man who saved the world from Death by PowerPoint.

http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html

http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-20-30-rule-guy-kawasaki-powerpoint/

http://www.guykawasaki.com/about/

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/history/museum-gordon-moore-law.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/no-more-plugging-chugging-and-forgetting/

http://finkconsutling.info/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PowerPoint

 

 

 

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