Communicating ideas clearly is one of those ultra-important skills critical for successfully navigating school, relationships, jobs, and…well, life in general.
As a teacher, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of sitting through hundreds of excruciatingly, mind-numbingly boring presentations over the past 15 years. Surprisingly, many of those were generated by educators, myself included. So many PowerPoints/Keynotes/Slides were little more than text on a wall. So many class presentations involved students standing at the front of the room, back to the audience, reading verbatim from the screen.
As my late grandmother Thelma “Toots” Hayden used to say when my cousins and I were in trouble, “For the love of all that is good and holy, DON’T DO THAT!”
Several years ago, Jesse DesJardins‘ brilliant SlideShare presentation, “Steal This Presentation!” came to my attention, and I’ve used it ever since to push students down a more creative presentation path. It’s a great contrast between how most people create presentations and how they should create presentations.
In addition to Jesse’s presentation above, I collected a few rules from a teacher, whose name I have long forgotten, at the American International School of Lusaka, in Zambia. Those rules, which I’ve bullet-pointed below, along with “Steal This Presentation”, comprise my instructions to students every time they have to present to class.
The 10-20-30 Rule: How to structure a presentation for success.
- Maximum 10 minutes – attention spans aren’t that long
- Maximum 20 slides – don’t overwhelm your audience
- Minimum 30 point font – make sure the people in back can read it
The Rule of 6: How to build great slides, engage with your audience, and avoid plagiarism.
- Maximum 6 lines of text per slide – minimize temptation to read the slide
- Maximum 6 words per line – focus on the most important key words and vocabulary
There you have it – short, sweet, and to the point, just like a presentation should be!