Interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times is a good reminder about the importance of brevity and clarity in business communications. Guy Kawasaki is renowned for the 10-20-30 rule of presentations that encourages the presenter to focus his audience on the most critical points. Nearly all of us have suffered through the death-by-PowerPoint meeting where after slide 47, you’re hoping for any intervention that will relieve your boredom. In most cases, the take away is usually, “thankfully that’s over.” His view of limiting information is also applicable to email, where he challenges writers and communicators to deliver their message in five lines or less.
These rules of thumb have worked for years in the fast-paced technology sector and among venture capitalists. So it’s easy to assume they’re effective and don’t prompt the audience to feel they’ve missed some critical information or explanation. In a recent presentation for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Georgia campaign, my natural bias – like most of us – was to provide more detail, but a closer analysis suggested that less was more, especially when providing an overview. The purpose of the presentation was to let a key audience know what resources are available from the campaign to help them engage their audiences in emergency preparedness.
The operable word here is “overview.” There was no need to provide an exhaustive list of every possible resource that they can use. Rather it was more important to represent, in a limited number of slides, those pieces that would connect and advance the conversation and information sharing with the audience.
For more of Guy’s stellar business advice, check out his “How to Change the World” blog.