Master the Fine Points

KITSAP/BUSINESS—If you obey the 10/20/30 Rule, your pitches will be better than those of 90 percent of entrepreneurs. To come even closer to perfect on, master these fine points:

NEVER. READ. YOUR. SLIDES. Never read your slides. The text on slides is your anchor point. The words out of your mouth are explanatory and embellished.

“Do you think that a faded fly in from the bottom left is going to make a presentation better?”

USE A DARK BACKGROUND. A dark background communicates seriousness and substance. A white or light background looks cheap and amateurish. Also, staring at a white screen for twenty to sixty minutes (depending on what kind of computer you use) gets tiring. Have you ever seen movie credits that use black text on a white background?


ADD YOUR LOGO TO THE MASTER PAGE. Every presentation is a chance to build brand awareness for your startup, so put your logo on the master slide page. By doing this, your logo will appear on every slide.

USE COMMON, SANS-SERIF FONTS. A presentation is not the place to show that you’ve accumulated the world’s most extensive collection of fonts. Use standard fonts because someday, you may present your pitch on someone else’s computer. Use sans-serif fonts because they are much easier to read than the delicate serif font You love. You can never go wrong with Arial.

ANIMATE YOUR BODY, NOT YOUR SLIDES. PowerPoint has more than sixty ways to animate text and graphics. This is fifty-nine too many. Many entrepreneurs use animations and transitions between slides to jazz up their presentations. Do you think that a faded fly-in from the bottom left is going to make a presentation better? Use your body, not PowerPoint effects and animations, to communicate expressiveness, emotion, and enthusiasm,

BUILD BULLETS. Most entrepreneurs don’t use bullets. They display and read big blocks of lengthy text. That’s a mistake. Use bullets instead: snippets of text that capture the main point. Even when many entrepreneurs use bullets, they put them all up at once, enabling people to read ahead. That’s also a mistake. Build your shells: click, bullet one, explain; click, bullet two, explain; click, bullet three, explain. This is all the animation you need anywhere in a presentation.


USE ONLY ONE LEVEL OF BULLETS. The use of bullets with bullets means that you’re trying to communicate too much information on a slide. Each slide should share one point, with ammunition to support that point. If you observe the “30” part of the 10/20/30 rule, it will be hard to have bullets with bullets anyway.

USE DIAGRAMS AND GRAPHS. Better a bullet than a block of text, but better a diagram or graph than a shot. Use charts to explain how your business works. Use graphs to illustrate trends and numerical results. And build your diagrams and pictures by bringing in these elements with clicks, just like bullets.

MAKE PRINTABLE SLIDES. There is a cautionary aspect to adding diagrams and graphics. Sometimes these graphic objects build upon each other, and in the process, cover previous ones. This is okay during a presentation but not when the file is printed, so ensure that your slides work when published too.

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