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POWERPOINT MBA: Font Sizes In Your Presentations

Let's face it - Some of you suck at PowerPoint.  Heck, I've come to realize that being a good presenter and being good at PowerPoint at times are related and at times are not.

Case in point - you can be a great presenter and use PowerPoint in a very minimalistic way.  Great presenters tell stories, and the best way to use PP in that regard is often slides that have nothing but pictures.  

In that arena, you can be an artist.  But 99% of the population struggles to do PowerPoint in that way - because they can't READ the slides as a presenter. Pp

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your presentations have to serve as leave-behinds or informational/educational vehicles within your company after you present on the topic of choice, pictures suck in that regard.  The leave-behind means nothing. You gave a great presentation and dazzled some people with your art, but nobody knows what the #### you are talking about if they fire up your deck without you there.

Not doing what's expected is a quick way to get beheaded in the corporate world.  So you need some words - but how many words?

A blast from the past - Guy Kawasaki - had a 10/20/30 rule. A presentation should be no longer than 10 slides, should last no more than 20 minutes, and the font size should be at least 30.  He's covering a lot of ground there, including deck size, presentation length and how big the font is.  Feels right for presentations in your company where people already have directional ideas and understanding of the business issues at hand.

Kawasaki also has another formula for the optimal font size: The age of the oldest person in the room, divided by 2. Which means you can go smaller than a 30 font - and put more on the slides - if you don't have a 55-60 year old in the room.

Is that right?  I'm not sure.  It's clever, but in this case clever doesn't mean right.

For best results, I recommend the following:

1--If you're presenting outside your company, do more slides with pictures only and tell a story.  If you can't go all pictures, make every second slide "picture only" - which means in between you'll have some word slides to lean on.

2 -Beware of your culture if you're doing an internal presentation.  We know you saw a Ted Talk.  You're not a Harvard PhD talking about a cute topic to support your book.  You're here to tell us about the new accounting software.  We don't need the picture from the Matrix (even though I would love that), just put your implementation plan on some slides (no less than 30 font!) and let's slog through this.

For every presentation, there's a reality.  Let your strategy follow that.  Let your freak flag fly when appropriate and most importantly, don't get fired.  Or have someone make a mental note to fire you down the road if they have a chance.

Comments

MattL

Now, I'm never one to stir up trouble, but from the About view on Guy's web page

...
Guy remained at Nova for a few years until the Apple II removed the scales from his eyes. Then he went to work for an educational software company called EduWare Services. However, Peachtree Software acquired the company and wanted Guy to move to Atlanta. “I don’t think so” was his reaction because he couldn’t live in a city where people call sushi, “bait.”
...

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