Part of the cause of ‘death by PowerPoint’ is presenters who adhere to outmoded rules. So if those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, here’s a short PowerPoint history lesson that you hopefully will never forget.
What is the pain? Too much content on a slide which doesn’t move quickly enough.
PowerPoint pundits then created rules-of-thumb for presenters designed to help. Examples of these rules are ‘5X5’ and ‘the two-minute rule.’
The 5X5 rule (and variations of it) remind you to have ‘no more than five bullet points with no more than five words each.’
The ‘two-minute rule’ tries to remind presenters only to spend no more than a couple minutes per slide.
But these rules were created for presenters who are in-person. Imagine, if you will, a television program that spends two minutes on a single, still image! You get the idea – the old rules do not work in a new medium.
An extreme example of a presenter who gets it is Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and a pile of others. I once moderated a web seminar where he showed up with 109 slides…to present at an event that is supposed to last an hour, or less, including Q&A.
Ironically, Gitomer’s ‘getting it’ is because he knows his audience really well, not because he’s a pundit about effective web seminars. Salespeople are a sharp, typically ADHD-afflicted bunch. My guess (I never asked) is that Jeffrey figured out that you keep it moving or lose then to the hangover from last night’s outing. With one thought per slide, and many slides that were simple, single images, those 109 slides flew by and the web seminar was done inside the hour. Just under 30 seconds per slide.
Use only one thought per slide. Don’t use more content, use more slides.