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Follow a straightforward PowerPoint rule to generate engaging presentations.

Is really a picture worth one thousand words? It really is when you’re attempting to describe drought conditions in the American southwest. This week, newspapers and websites posted photos of the rapidly evaporating Colorado River, something that supplies water to forty million people.

In a single dramatic photo, bathtub-like rings clearly show where in fact the water level was previously and just how much lower it really is today. Another photo shows an exposed sunken boat on a dry lake bed. The NY Times article that accompanies the images is merely over 900 words. It answers questions like how low the reservoir levels are (28 percent of capacity) and what new restrictions are increasingly being positioned on farmers and homeowners.

But unless you browse the article and whatever you see will be the pictures, you obtain the theory. The crisis is bad. So, yes, an image can say 1,000 words.

If photos speak volumes, why aren’t you using more of these in your PowerPoint presentations? I discover that most speakers recognize that slides with way too many words and too little pictures are boring and hard to learn, but they have no idea how to correct it.

Well, there is a simple solution. I call it the10-40 Rule: the initial ten slides of one’s presentation should contain only forty words.

The 10-40 Rule for Building Presentations

The common PowerPoint slide has 40 words. That is the average, but many slides contain a lot more text. I’ve recently evaluated PowerPoint decks for executives and CEOs which are shockingly dense–some have 100 words or even more. Those aren’t slides. They’re ‘slideuments,’ documents masquerading as slides.

When I wroteThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I analyzed the Apple founder’s most well-known keynotes–still considered one of the better business presentations of our time. I came across that his presentations started with many photos and slightly text. Actually, the initial ten slides usually contained a maximum of 40 words.

Ten slides–forty words.

Initially, following 10-40 rule could be more of a fitness to truly get you familiar with using more images than text. But as soon as you observe how effective it really is and just how much your audience likes it, you may be inspired to help keep it up for all of those other presentation.

Follow the Rule for Better Storytelling

The rule acts as a forcing mechanism–it forces one to become more creative. Rather than writing headlines and bullet points, it forces one to be considered a storyteller.

Since our brains are wired for stories, opening with personal stories, anecdotes, or case studies will immediately engage your listeners. If you are telling a tale, there’s no have to have way too many words on a slide. Instead, find pictures tocomplementthe story.

When I taught executive education classes at Harvard come early july, many students were professional builders and property developers creating pitch decks to attract investors and partners. I recommended they highlight any personal connections they could need to the projects.

One developer threw out his existing text-heavy pitch deck and started by discussing his family’s history in a nearby he wished to redevelop. He showed photos of himself growing up in the same place that, today, is in dire need of restoration. The photos and story reflected his commitment to honoring the region’s history. When he returned to Texas, he used his newfound storytelling skills to land an enormous (and lucrative) contract. He said he’ll never get back to the “old way” of pitching again.

The “old way” of fabricating PowerPoint is really a holdover from the pre-Instagram days. Today your audience prefers photos and videos. Every minute of each day, 66,000 photos are shared on Instagram, and 167 million videos have emerged on TikTok. To put it simply, we’re not reading bullet points.

It’s hard to stick out from the crowd. Go above your competitors and obtain noticed by doing things differently, particularly when you provide a pitch or deliver a presentation. Follow the 10-40 rule in the next presentation to leave a memorable and positive impression.

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