Rule #1 – Follow the 80/20 rule
Presentations are meant to hook attention and garner interest, not lull people to sleep. Anything that can be depicted in text, can also be structured using relationships and diagrams. Instead of just bullets and text, bring out the structure visually, this will help drive home the message more effectively. This will also help connect with the audience and ensure that the audience’s thought process is aligned with yours.
Rule#2 – Keep it short
This is what I would recommend as a thumb rule. Any presentation between 1-5 slides would be considered sweet, 6-10 slides would be considered OK, 11-20 slides would be considered boring, and greater than 20 would just mean, you don’t know what you are talking about / you don’t want the audience to know what you are talking about.
Rule#3 – Structure it Right
Everything is lost if the structure is not right, or worse, if a structure is not present at all. Ensure that you are able to provide one continuous storyline, and not disjoint stories. It should follow the universal law – a central theme, good punch and a strong finish.
Rule#4 – “Content” plays a small role
Yes, don’t get bogged down by fretting too much about what you want to put in there. Put more thoughts around WHAT, WHY and HOW instead.
Rule#5 – Shock ‘em
Always works. Put in something that would be a surprise element. Break off traditional thinking. I sometimes go in for Greek / Latin titles across my slides, this way I can always justify when someone says it was all Greek and Latin for them:-)
ps: For more on delivering the message right, read my earlier article here.