Friday, August 17, 2007

the 1/2/3 rule of powerpoint

With all this talk about YC presentations, the timing seemed right for me to unveil my new PowerPoint™ rule. Guy Kawasaki evangelized his 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint to great acclaim, I figured the same could work for me and my 1/2/3 Rule.

I've given this style of presentation quite a few times over the last year since I became slightly less insignificant. The trial run was at Startup School Stanford (here's the ppt); afterward, I got some encouraging feedback and a few invitations to do the schtick again. The idea was really just an extension of a BarCamp presentation we -- err, Pierre Francois and Ian Gilbert -- did last year. This was of course a blatant rip-off of Stephen Colbert's The Word, the 2.0 version.

I don't suffer from anything particularly bad (maybe the occasional allergies) and I rarely see pitches -- so I haven't got any form of Kawasaki's "Ménière’s of the VC community" -- but I really like pictures. This is aims to be a model for a more entertaining (I didn't say informative) style of presentation.

It's very simple really. A 1/2/3 presentation should have 1 focal point on each slide, each slide shouldn't take more than 2 seconds to comprehend, and the majority of the slides should be images from one of 3 categories: ironic pictures, funny photos, or cute animals (always a crowd-pleaser).*

This style of PowerPoint presentation requires a fuckload™ of slides, but they should almost all be pictures that you can advance through rather quickly. If it's gotta be text, it should be for an emoticon -- or maybe five words tops.

Our attention spans have evidently gotten even shorter since Kawasaki's decree.

Granted, getting the timing right on this takes some practice, but I think you'll find it to be well worth it. Hint: the "preview next slide" functionality in most presentation modes is a great cheat as long as you can furtively peek at it.

If you're still reading this, I'm sorry. But your curiosity has at least gotten you this far, so let me give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Here's a reenactment:

(Imagine a captivated audience and me standing behind a podium, broad-shouldered and visionary.)

"When Steve and I started reddit, we were just trying to build a site that wasn't annoying -- " (click)

"-- or tacky and trendy --" (click)

"-- Above all, we wanted reddit to be simple." (click) "Dead simple."

(Too easy, I know, but I couldn't help myself.)

Throw in a couple jokes about Java and you're golden. I've pretty much recycled this same presentation about five times now, adding and removing various slides depending on the audience, so please feel free to gank.

Even if you can only squeeze a couple LOLCATs into your next quarterly earnings presentation, I think you'll be quite pleased with the results.

*One of these days, I'm doing an all-LOLCAT presentation.