PowerPoint Math: The 1-6-6 Rule

Today I want to discuss the 1-6-6 Rule. Quite simply, this “Rule” says that each PowerPoint slide should have one main idea, a maximum of six bullet points, and a maximum of six words per bullet point. Two caveats:

  • I have also seen this rule called the 1-5-5 Rule and the 1-7-7 Rule, with necessary changes to the numbers of bullet points and words per bullet point. I have chosen the middle ground.
  • The “Rule” is not a rule at all. It is nonsense.

Why is it nonsense? Let’s see the 1-6-6 Rule in practice.

Now, you might be thinking, “I’ve seen worse.” And, at first blush, this slide doesn’t look too bad. The sentences are short and straightforward; the font is large and easy to read. Here’s the problem: It’s only one slide.

Imagine a modest presentation of 16 slides that rigorously follows the 1-6-6 Rule. Looking at the entire presentation in Slide Sorter View will give you some sense of just how bad things could get.

Bombarding your audience with this much text in a presentation is a sure-fire way to stimulate boredom, apathy or revolution. Dont’t do it.

I am not opposed to bullet points of text in a presentation. In fact, when used properly, they can be effective. But they should be used sparingly.

Minimize text and avoid long runs of text-only slides. Break things up. Throw in some pictures for visual variety; add a video clip; use a prop; occasionally turn the screen black and – heaven forbid – just speak to the audience.

There are many ways in which to create an engaging presentation so that, when you do show important text, your audience will actually want to read it.

As for the 1-6-6 Rule, please find a trash can and bin it.

Post courtesy of John Zimmer @ mannerofspeaking.org [link to source]

Get Rid of Distraction

Successful public speaking correlates so much with good preparation. Always be well prepared when you enter a stage and talk to an audience. A small but important part of this preparation is to get rid of any potential distraction for your audience. My goal is to prevent any form of visual or auditory distraction. Coins or keys that make jingling sounds in my pocket? No way. Expansive bracelets or earrings, if I were a woman? No way. And that conference name tag flying around in front of my chest? Definitely no way!

#publicspeaking #rhetoric #performance #delivery #speechdelivery #powerpoint #presentations #ted #tedtalks #tedxtalks #tedx #charisma #preparation #stagetime #nametags #earrings #earstuds #fminsights