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If You Learn This 10-20-30 Rule, Every Presentation You Give Will Be Excellent

If You Learn This 10-20-30 Rule, Every Presentation You Give Will Be Excellent

Very few of us enjoy creating presentations. It requires hours of uncertain work poring over slide after slide, hoping to get our message across. The greatest fear is watching our audience grow bored, frustrated, or occasionally even asleep. The same energy we had when we explained our great idea to our best friend last night never quite seems to make it across when we are presenting to a room of acquaintances or strangers. After everything is said and done, hours of preparation are wasted as our audience stands up and leaves after our presentation, presumably with no one having gained any special insight or motivation.

However, there is a way to change all that. There is a rock-solid method for creating presentations that will cut right to the heart of your subject matter, engaging your audience and provoking feedback and interest for days to come.

The 10-20-30 Presentation Method

The 10-20-30 rule was proposed by Guy Kawasaki [1]. And it is simple like this:

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Your Presentation Should

  • Be no more than 10 pages in length,
  • Require no more than 20 minutes to deliver,
  • And have no font size less than 30pt on any slide page.

Seems simple enough, right? But when you break it down into its individual components, the genius behind the system becomes clear.

10 Pages, No More

Our natural tendency is to throw out every bit of information we might have on the subject we are presenting on, hoping that some part of it might resonate with our audience.

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This is a mistake, according to Chris Anderson of Harvard Business Review. His said most presentations fail specifically because of length:

“The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground.” [2]

Instead, you should try to focus on one specific topic. Start with an introduction, support your focused topic with maybe 3 or 4 slides, add in a story that will illustrate a real-world application of your point, and close with a call to action.

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The 20-Minute Marathon

In 1996, Professors Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish of the University of Indiana produced a paper studying college students attending lectures.[3]

They made two interesting discoveries. First, adults seem to be able to only pay attention during a lecture for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Secondly, during a 50-minute class period, students did not retain the information imparted to them most recently. They had better retention of the concepts and facts presented during the first 20 minutes of the lecture.

So make sure your presentation would not exceed 20 minutes! Otherwise no one would be really listening after the 20 minutes.

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30 Points to Success

Since we, as humans, respond so well to visual stimuli, one of the best ways to do that is to use large, easy-to-read text on your slides. So make sure the font size you’re using is at least 30.

Instead of endless lines of text, use a few words in a large, easy-to-read font supported by visual aids such as graphs, illustrations, and even photos that support the topic of your presentation.

The Perfect Presentation Is In Your Hands!

Using the 10/20/30 rule will give you complete control over your subject and your audience. The ability to engage your audience while they are still awake and interested is not to be underestimated. Your audience members will be talking about your presentation for days to come. Use this simple rule, and watch your engagement and feedback skyrocket!

Featured image credit: Gregor CresnarFreepik and Madebyoliver

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Jeremy C. Schofield

Independent Writer

If You Learn This 10-20-30 Rule, Every Presentation You Give Will Be Excellent

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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