Idiot’s Guide to Effective Presentations

Timing is everything when it comes to delivering an effective presentation. After having to tolerate a presentation that included a slide deck so large it blocked out the sun and a presenter who thought it was acceptable to run 24 minutes over his allotted time, I felt compelled to write this post.

The last thing I’d want is for your colleagues to suffer the same fate as I when you next present at a team meeting. So if you want to stay on track, keep your team happy and deliver an efficient and professional presentation, then read on…

The Golden Rules of an Effective Presentation

3 things distinguish great from grim when it comes to effective presentations: timing, content and delivery.

This post is all about timing.

The 60:40 Rule

Let’s assume you have a 20 minute slot to deliver your presentation. 30% of your presentation time should be taken up by the Q&A. This is where you field questions and gather audience reaction. Your audience will evaluate the effectiveness of your presentation based upon how well you handle your Q&A. If you run out of time, then you miss the opportunity to enhance your credibility and reduce any negative evaluation of your presentation.

Another 10% will be taken up by natural pauses and transitions between visual aids. That leaves you with 12 minutes to deliver your presentation – 60% of your total allotted time.

Think 130

If you were reading from a script to an audience for 12 minutes then your presentation is likely to be around 1500 words in length, about 4 pages of A4. This is based upon the fact that we typically speak at a rate of roughly 130 words per minute.

Power Point – how much is too much?

Many see the task of delivering a business presentation as one large data bombardment  with bullet after bullet of information crammed onto each slide and miniature helicopters swooping across the screen dropping statistics into an already confusing spreadsheet.

Stop this silliness and keep your slides simple.

Each slide should contain a simple and to the point headline. Underneath the headline, no more than 3 bullet points that act as a visual cue for your audience, so they know what to expect from you without having to read it on the screen. After all, what’s the point in being there if all your information is contained within your slides.

Now to the part where you fall off your chair.

1 for 2

If you are speaking for 12 minutes (remember it’s still a 20 minute presentation), then the maximum number of slides in your deck should be 6. That’s right, no more than 1 slide every 2 minutes.

You’ve still got to factor in a 45 second introduction, which may require a slide in itself and a 45 second conclusion, which may also require its own slide.

3 Rules for Efficient Presentations

The 60/40 Rule – Plan to present for 60% of your time, the rest for Q&A and contingency

Think 130 – Every minute equates to approximately 130 words spoken. Plan for more and you plan to fail.

1 for 2 – You should have no more than 1 slide for every 2 minutes of talk time

Nobody will ever thank you if you run over your allotted time and everyone will thank you if you finish a minute earlier.

In the next post I’ll share a powerful formula for making your content engaging and coherent. In the meantime please leave your comments below, at the very least tell me what irritates you most in a presentation!

Post to Twitter Post to Twitter

  • Yuri Kurta

    Hi Aled. And what about non-English speakers? I believe ‘Think 130′ should be lower then.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Yuri, you make a good point.

      I think the word count drops even less to around 100 words a minute. I did a presentation to a group out in Morocco recently, English wasn’t even their second language so I had to be conscious of that and slow right down. If I’m honest, I think my presentation ran a few minutes over!

      Thanks for you comment Yuri.

      Best wishes

      Aled

  • http://www.powerpoint-presentation-power.com/ PowerPointPresent

    “Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are making them feel good about you.” Dan Reiland

Previous post:

Next post: