Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Rule Of Seven

Writen by Bette Daoust, Ph.D.

After attending dozens of PowerPoint presentations, it never ceases to amaze me at the number of slides that are absolutely unreadable. Here are some simple steps on how to avoid this type of error.

  • Only present a maximum of 5 points on a slide.

  • Each point should only be 7 words in length. If you need more words, make subpoints below the main point.

  • For every subpoint, reduce the number of main points on the slide. The goal is have only 5 lines of information. Anything more than that will confuse the viewer and often make it unreadable.

  • If the subpoints require a lot of words, reduce it to 7 main words. The details should be given separately in a word document or other file. A PowerPoint presentation should not have a lot of detail. A presentation on slides is for the main points only so you can keep the attention of the audience. If they simply need to read your presentation on the slide, you will lose their concentration on what you are saying.

  • Avoid detailed statistics on your slides. If you need to present something, make the page fuzzy with the numbers you want to emphasize circled with bold and larger fonts. The focus is then on the results with a general idea of where the information came from. There is nothing worse than trying to read a lot of numbers, rows, and columns on a slide you could only read if it is two feet in front of you.

  • Use color wisely, but do use color. Some color work better for slide shows and other colors work better for print. Display your slides using the suggested colors from Microsoft. Print your slides in black and white without the background.

  • Use slide transitions that pique interest. Do not get carried away with too many but do use a variety in your presentation.

  • When giving the presentation, do not look at the display screen - your audience does not want to view your back. Place your computer in front of you so you can see the slide you are working on.

  • Do not read the slide to the audience, touch on the main point and go into details. The audience will take notes on the details or ask for more information later. Give the audience the details in written form from your website. Have the register their email address on your site to gain access to the presentation. This will help you to connect with your audience and gain valuable email addresses at the same time. If you give them everything at the presentation, you will lose that connection unless you call them personally. People tend to forget who gave the presentation unless they have an action item to get the materials. Oh, offer a special bonus to those that go to the web site as well.

Follow these simple rules and make your audience happy.

Bette Daoust, Ph.D. is a speaker, author (over 170 books, articles, and publications), and consultant. She has provided marketing, sales, business development and training expertise for companies such as Peet's Coffee & Tea, Varian Medical Systems, Accenture, Avaya, Cisco Systems to name a few. Dr. Daoust has also done extensive work with small businesses in developing their marketing, training, and operational plans. You may contact Dr. Daoust at You may also view her latest publications at Dr. Daoust also writes for the National Networker

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