Creating the Best Presentation Using Rules of Thumbs

People like to use rules of thumb for many stuffs. It can be cooking, writing essays, business, painting and etc. You name a trade and there will be some sort of rules of thumb for it. Most people do not like to feel lost, and always hope for a guide. Rules of thumb serves as a quick and effective method for keeping oneself on track and in line with people’s expectations (Well hopefully).

There is even rules of thumb for presentation. Ever heard of this: “Plan for one minute and a half per slide”, some say, “and never put more than 5 bullets point and more than 5 words per bullet point”

Beneath this rules of thumb lies many underlying assumptions and cognitive biases of the human’s attention span. May or may not be true. Your audience consists of a diverse group of people with different kinds of background. Some may come from the advertising industry and are more attune to colors and pictures. Other may come from science and engineering background, and require evidences as support for your claims. Some may be in the higher management, and prefer the general picture with an emphasis on profits. Who are your audience? That is the single most important question when crafting out the perfect presentation.

Before going for a presentation, it is important to find out who are your audience and what are their background. Relying on rules of thumb may sometimes prove to be right, but to truly excel at presentation, you will have to cater it to the audience.

You are the salesperson. The presentation is your product, and your customers are the audience. To make the sales, you need to have strong product knowledge (your presentation subject), engaging presentation skills and knowing the needs, wants and background of your customer (plus putting that knowledge to good use). If you are the customer, you do not want your customer to treat you using some rules of thumb. You want special customized treatment.

Use rules of thumb with caution. Very often, many of us do not even know how such and such a rule of thumbs comes about, therefore some of them may not be suitable to your audience. As Sun Tzu said, “Know enemy, know yourself and you shall win all your battles”.

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