I was reading some articles about PowerPoint today on Presentation Zen and stumbled on a few good things to remember. First was one I had heard before – the 10-20-30 rule. Ten slides, twenty minutes, thirty point font. Someone asked Guy Kawasaki at a presentation what to do if you have to use an hour for your presentation and he said not to worry – it would take forty minutes to get the projector to work with your Windows laptop. How true!
The second article had to do with design and the author described the rule of thirds. You divide your slide into vertical and horizontal thirds. Position text and images along these invisible lines for a more interesting design. Use the image to draw the eye to your text. He had some great examples.
I’d like to see our students better educated in the proper use of PowerPoint. When I see students attempting to put an entire term paper on a presentation I ask them to pretend they are driving down the highway reading billboards. Would they be able to read their slide do 50 miles an hour without causing a ten car pile-up? If not they probably have too much information.
Another problem some students have is getting past playing with the bells and whistles to gathering the actual research done and putting the information on their slides. I tell them to imagine they have been asked to bring a Birthday Cake to a party. You don’t frost and decorate a cake before you bake it so the same principle holds true with presentations. Make the cake and then using good design ideas – decorate it!