Guy Kawasaki and his 10/20/30 Rule of Power Point

Just read about the 10/20/30 Rule of Power Point blogged by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki. The rule he set up is for entrepreneurs pitching their startups. Though I think it could be applied for all kind of power point teaching in some way. Just briefly about his rule:

10 means a power point presentation should have 10 slides.

20 means it should last no more than twenty minutes.

30 means the fonts should not be smaller than thirty points.

He also comments:

“You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you have an hour time slot, but you’re using a Windows laptop, so it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Even if setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion”.

Could librarians learn something from this rule when teaching information searching? I think so, definitely. In my environment I deal with for example a lot of physicians and doctoral students from the medical faculty. Many (if not all) of them are always occupied with something else and though all the talk of the importance of evidence-based medicine they don’t always prioritize information searching skills.

Just as a venture capitalist tired of all these entrepreneurs power-point-slides-seducing-talks I think our overstrained and occupied library users (just trying to cope with circumstances concerning their career and family) also are tired of all these information load and talks, talks, talks, preferably power pointed.

So we don’t have much time to catch our users attention. That’s why I think we have to apply some of these rules from Kawasaki. Last year in September I went to a the EAHIL conference in Cluj-Napoca, Romania to present an evaluation project I did last year called One Entry to Research. But I just got 20 minutes to present it. At first I thought it was impossible, after a while I saw it as a challenge: “Well, dear librarian, you got this time to catch the attendees attention and it’s up to you to make it work!”

So, how did I deal with it? Checking the presentation again I see it includes 32 slides, but fonts about 27 to 32. To my defend many of these slides just includes screenshots. I’m a devoted screenshoter since I had to many disastrous talks in the 90’s something when trying to show a search online and loosing valuable time, often because of the slow internet connection or because the search interface has changed a bit or because something else unpredictable.

My talk begun with describing the project and then answering the conclusions of my evaluations. That instead of keeping the audience on tenterhooks. At least five minutes of the audience attention were taken at that moment. After that I showed some examples of how I come up with the conclusions just mentioned before half of the audience fell in sleep ;-)

My last 8 slides then finished the talk by explaining a journal coverage test we did within the project, trying to awake some of that half of the audience already sleeping since the introduction of conclusions;-) I don’t know if this method succeeded but at least I tried to stick to some rule similar to 10/20/30.

Would be interesting to hear your opinions or experience of teaching 20 minutes sets. No matter if it’s in a librarian information literacy context. All knowledge workers deal with these problems.