Dear Doc: I’ve gotten feedback that my slides are too dense and complicated – especially the text slides, but I really need all the information so I can get my point across to my client who is paying big bucks for my advice. There just doesn’t seem to be a way to make them less cluttered. I know because I’ve tried. Please help! – Overkill in Overlook, TX
Dear Overkill: You are suffering from “The Wonder of Me Syndrome.” PowerPoint slides are not about you and your vast knowledge, but about your audience and what they need in order to grasp your message.
First, I would love to know who your client is who will happily sit through a very dense, text-heavy presentation, regardless of how stellar the advice. Second, have you really tried? Really? Since I’ve already the doctor-patient time limit, I am going to write you two prescriptions.
First, try the Guy Kawasaki Rule of 10/20/30: Ten slides, twenty minutes, thirty-point font. I can hear you screaming out in pain at this moment. Yes, it’ll hurt for a while, but your audience will love you for it. Isn’t that a nice side effect?
Second, try the Five-second Rule, made famous by Vinod Khosla – a venture capitalist who has sat through hundreds of presentations over the years. Once you have finished creating your slides, print out your most egregious slide – the one with the least amount of white space – and show it to a colleague for five seconds. If they cannot articulate your key message, then the slide is a waste of everyone’s time, including the time you spent creating it. Go back to your office and press the delete key as many times as necessary.