We have all been present in this scenario (or been guilty of this ourselves) . Someone throws up a presentation in a meeting with one hundred slides in tiny font, and an hour later everyone's eyes are glazing over and they are starting to snore.
In order to combat this occurrence, Guy Kawasaki has come up with the 10/20/30 Rule of Presenting, a Mental Model designed to ensure any sort of presentation trying to reach some sort of agreement stays on point. Let's break it down.
Ten slides. That's it. Ten is the optimal number to stick to, because the average human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a single meeting. Try and whittle things down as much as possible to this number.
You should aim to present your ten slides in 20 minutes. Normally meetings run in a 60 minute time slot, so this allows you ten minutes to try and make your laptop power up and to call the tech guy to make the projector work, and more importantly 30 minutes for discussion. This ensures your audience feels engaged, and you can dive deeper on any points they don't understand.
When you have small fonts on a slide, and the audience notices you are simply reading to them from these slides, they will naturally start reading themselves. And the problem here is that people can read faster than you can talk, so you and the audience get out of sync.
Having a thirty point font forces you to pull the most salient points out of the presentation to talk to. Not only will this force the audience to pay attention to you, it ensures you understand and can explain the material as you will definitely need to know it.
There you have it, a simple model for presentations - 10 slides, 20 minutes, and a 30 point font minimum. Keep your super long one hundred slide booklet as a takeaway after the meeting, but keep your main presentation succinct.
A newer version of this article is available at my new platform Strategy Umwelt.