Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New blogs!

wherein I mention the Av Club, Guy Kawasaki, and Edward Tufte on PowerPoint

The Onion’s AV Club has a blog. I keep forgetting that. Note to self: add to list on the right.

Dude, Guy Kawasaki has a blog! Found at Daring Fireball. Need to add both of them. Kawasaki is a famed Apple evangelist and long before I considered owning Apple computers I enjoyed reading his articles (Macuser, Macworld, and Forbes). More recently, he's been involved with a venture capitalist firm "making direct investments in early-stage technology companies."

What's he plan to do with the blog? This:
One of the great ironies of startups is the envy entrepreneurs express for innovators in large companies—let’s use the Gifford Pinchot term: “intrapreneurs.” From the outside looking in, entrepreneurs think intrapreneurs have it made: ample capital, infrastructure (desks, chairs, Internet access, secretaries, lines of credit, etc), salespeople, support people, and an umbrella brand.

Guess again. Intrapreneurs don’t have it better—at best, they simply have it different. Indeed, they probably have it worse because they are fighting against ingrained, inbred, and inept management. There are lots of guys/gals inside established companies who are as innovative and revolutionary as their bootstrapping, soy-sauce-and-rice-subsisting counterparts. This blog is for these brave souls who must practice the art of intrapreneuring.

Sounds interesting. Currently, the blog is new enough that all posts are available on the front page. Go read, lot's of good stuff. To entice you, here's an excerpt from The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint
...I am trying to evangelize the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. While I’m in the venture capital business, this rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.

Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting—and venture capitalists are very normal. (The only difference between you and venture capitalist is that he is getting paid to gamble with someone else’s money). If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business.


You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you have an hour time slot, but you’re using a Windows laptop, so it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Even if setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.

Great advice, whether you're in the VC business or not. Keep it short, keep it focused, don't crowd the slide, and don't just read the slide. I think Kawasaki would be a PowerPoint compatriot in Edward Tufte, whose Cognitive Style of PowerPoint is well worth the $7. To quote Tufte:
Presentations largely stand or fall depending on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. The way to make big improvements in a presentation is to get better content.

Designer formats will not salvage weak content. If your numbers are boring, then you've got the wrong numbers. If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won't make them relevant. Audience boredom is usually a content failure, not a decoration failure.

At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm to content. Yet again and again we have seen that the PP cognitive style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. PP presentations too often resemble the school play: very loud, very slow, and very simple.

...PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector for low-resolution materials....Never use PP templates for arraying words or numbers. Avoid elaborate hierarchies of bullet lists. Never read aloud from the slide. Never use PP templates to format paper reports or web screens. Use PP as a projector for showing low-resolution color images, graphics, and videos that cannot be reproduced as printed handouts at a presentation.


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