Effective Presenting by the Numbers

Posted on February 7, 2016 in Public Speaking, The Key to Make a Successful Presentation by Slideshop

  • SumoMe

numbers public speaking

As a conscientious presenter, it’s likely you’re always on the lookout for useful tips and tricks to boost your presentation skills and success. In our last blog post, we listed several acronyms and abbreviations to help you in that regard. Now we’ve got some new tips for you; this time they’re oriented around numbers, rather than letters. Here we go:

The 10/20/30 PowerPoint Rule

Popularized by venture capitalist and author Guy Kawasaki, this is one of the most discussed working principles in the world of presentation preps:

  • 10 slides – Ideal number of slides for a presentation
  • 20 minutes – Ideal presentation length
  • 30 points – Ideal font size for your slide text

Mr. Kawasaki explains that these guidelines reflect the ideal for reaching an agreement with your presentation audience. Whether you’re out to raise capital, make a sale, form a partnership or brief your team on a new project, follow these parameters and pump up your potential for success.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

Do you find yourself haunted by nagging anxieties, minutes before you’re due to present or speak? The 4-7-8 breathing technique can be very effective in taming stage fright symptoms:

  • 4 – Inhale quietly through your nose while counting slowly to four
  • 7 – Hold your breath for a count of seven
  • 8 – Exhale through your mouth to a count of eight

There’s nothing unusual about feeling nervous or even fearful. What if you don’t meet your audience’s expectations? What if you lose your train of thought? What if you look stiff and nervous? When such upsetting thoughts creep in, take a few deep breaths. Dr. Andrew Weil explains that when you focus your thoughts on breathing, it can give you a re-energized and relaxed feeling.

The Rule of Thirds

One of the simple guidelines for designing effective visuals is the Rule of Thirds: Place the most important elements along imaginary lines which divide your slide into three equal parts, horizontally and/or vertically. This is a traditional technique, widely used by photographers, painters, filmmakers and other visual artists. It happens to work well in slide and presentation design, too.

Here’s how you can apply the rule of thirds in designing presentations:

  • Create three horizontal and vertical lines or guides on PowerPoint, to help you effectively place key elements.
  • If you plan to use stock photos as slide backgrounds, choose images that obey the Rule of Thirds. You may have to scale or crop the images a bit to get them to follow the rule well.
  • Arrange your images and text so they follow the rule, too.

The Three Ps

No time to design your own slides? Well, you could hire a presentation agency to produce the visuals you need. Use the 3 Ps to guide you in choosing the right agency:

  • Portfolio – Review the agency’s previous designs, and their customers’ feedback
  • Process – Check the process they follow for client consultation and slide design
  • Price – Determine whether their product quality justifies their fees

The Power of Three

Here’s yet another “three” rule – a bit different from the Rule of Thirds, mentioned earlier. The basic idea here is that people tend to better appreciate and remember things that come in threes. You see this principle used frequently in books, slogans, literature and so on. Remember the stories of the three little pigs, or Goldilocks and the three bears? Of course you do. How about the old safety mantra, “stop, look, and listen?” You even find it in Shakespeare – Macbeth’s three witches, and the famous “Friends, romans, countrymen” speech.

Here are some ways to weave the power of three into your speeches or presentations:

  • Structure your talk in three parts, with a distinct beginning, middle, and end
  • Use lists of three whenever possible (three stories, three reasons, three steps, etc.)
  • Use the rule of three for words, phrases and sentences (Steve Jobs did this well, with his “thinner, lighter, and faster” description for iPad 2)

Now, with all those numerical tools at your disposal, wouldn’t you agree that when it comes to presenting, numbers rule?

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