Death by PowerPoint

18 December 2007

Clearly, PowerPoint is one of the most misused computer applications in the history of the world (coming in a close second behind email), and it’s killing investor presentations as well.

Investor conferences are the killing fields for what were once useful presentations by management teams of public companies.  It is at these conferences where management attempts to clearly describe the investment merits of their company to an audience of institutional investors.  Unfortunately, this accredited audience is completely distracted by squinting at PowerPoint slides, trying to decipher what each slide says (or is trying to say).  There is little or no focus on the “manager” at all.

The CEO, the CFO, the master minds of the company – oh no, never mind what they have to say.  I’m much more interested in what is says on the very bottom of that horrible architecture diagram that appears on the slide.  That’s what I want to focus on!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to make a keynote address to a group of award winning emerging companies.  These companies were about to embark on a road show to “pitch” their ideas to venture capital firms.  The title of my presentation was “Top 10 Pitch Points” – a guide to making effective presentations to potential investors.

The point that had the biggest effect on the audience was the 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint.  This is a Guy Kawasaki rule which states that no presentation should contain no more than 10 slides, should not be longer than 20 minutes in length, and should never include a font that is smaller than 30-point.

Try it sometime.  I guarantee you that it will take the focus of the presentation off of the slides and put the focus back onto the presenter.  After all, the presenter is who they came to see, not the slides.


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