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Caffeinated Coder A Grande, Triple Shot, Non-Fat Core Dump by Russell Ball

It looks like I'll have a chance to test out the10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint by Guy Kawasaki next Tuesday at the next KC .NET User Group meeting where I will be giving a presentation on PowerShell. I was only recently introduced to this rule, which states that PowerPoint presentations should contain only ten slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and use no smaller than 30 point font. However, since I naturally have a small attention span when it comes to presentations that aren't concise, I was immediately sold on the wisdom of the advice.

Unfortunately, this philosophy is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I definitely tried to cram too much information into my presentation the last time I gave this talk at the Topeka .NET User Group meeting. My slide deck contained over 20 slides and I had to skip a few at the end because I had used up my allotted sixty minutes. After much soul searching last night, I finally managed to cut the number of slides in half although I must admit that I am still struggling a little to comply with the font size part of the equation. My plan is to finish my slides within the 20 minutes and then leave the rest of the time for interactive code demos and discussion.

If all else fails, at least I will have built up some good presentation karma for at least making a concerted effort to not zombify the audience with too many slides.

For those of you who will also be giving technical presentations in the near future, these blog posts by Scott Hanselman and Jeff Atwood also provide some good advice.

Posted on Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:04 AM Musings, Rants, and Humor | Back to top


Comments on this post: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule

# re: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule
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Just remember, with the 10/20/30 rule the slides are not meant to be reusable outside the context of the presentation itself.

-d
Left by dru on Sep 22, 2007 6:23 AM

# re: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule
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I think that Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 rule was specifically meant for the context of sales and selling a pitch for a start-up. The time frame is usually limited and the VC's want the person to get to the point.
While I don't like "reading slides", in my opinion this would totally fail in a technical presentation, which is usually longer than 20 minutes and requires depth. Now if you were going to do a tech demo with Visual Studio or a software product to reinforce your slide points then it would be a better fit.
Left by Scott Miller on Sep 22, 2007 9:18 AM

# re: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule
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Dru - Thanks, keeping that in mind helped me during a second round of revisions that did help cut down on the amount of text on each slide.

Scott - I know that the 10/20/30 rule originally had a more narrow goal and some of his suggestions are definitley not applicable to tech presentations. For example, I'm obviously not using his suggested topics for each slide because they are specific to VC pitches. However, I do think that his underlying assertion that PowerPoint slides should serve only as a visual cue and a placeholder for conversation rather than a means of conveying content is applicable universally. Otherwise, I think that the slides end up being a distraction and disrupt the cadence of the experience. I figure if someone wanted to learn by reading rather than by watching me demonstrate code or listening to me respond to questions, then they would just stay home and read my blog instead of making the trip out to the meeting... :-)
Left by Russell Ball on Sep 22, 2007 10:11 AM

# re: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule
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There's still no meeting update out on the kc users group website for your presentation. Maybe they're thinking with the rain and Halo 3 coming out today they won't have to worry about it. This is a huge test of our friendship - Halo 3, powershell. Hmmm, do they have beer at the meetings? :)
Left by marshal on Sep 25, 2007 9:41 AM

# re: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule
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ah, it's out there now. pretty much right after I mentioned it. and your name is apparently now russell bail. nice
Left by marshal on Sep 25, 2007 9:53 AM

# re: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule
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Marshal - I would personally recommend the Halo 3. It beats powerShell hands down. As far as my name goes, I've been called worse...probably by you as a matter of fact...:-)
Left by Russell Ball on Sep 25, 2007 10:04 AM

# re: Cultivating Good Audience Karma with the 10/20/30 Rule
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As Winston Churchill famously said about one of his speeches: "This is going to be a long speech, I didn't have the time to write a short one". It's not an oxymoron, saying it short and sweet IS difficult. Keep it up, you'll learn. :-)

Besides, if you want to have text material usable outside a meeting buy a book. Nothing less works well.
Left by Morten on Sep 26, 2007 12:55 PM

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