Despite its reputation for delivering dry content in both virtual and in-person meetings, PowerPoint still the preferred choice for many professionalseven as other options emerge that offer greater usability and flexibility outside of the Microsoft ecosystem. Part of the presentation platform’s popularity is due to its familiarity – many organizations still run Microsoft-first IT software environments, making PowerPoint the obvious choice for a straightforward presentation design. Simplicity provides the second part of this popularity permutation, as creating a basic PowerPoint presentation on a single topic requires minimal time and effort.
The problem? “Simple” does not always mean “effective”. Staff in all markets, industries and verticals around the world have stories about excruciatingly long and boring PowerPoint presentations that had a lot of detail but little value. The 7×7 ruler provides a framework to help improve the form and function of PowerPoint by reducing the volume of text and improving the impact of information. In this article, we will discuss the 7×7 rule in PowerPoint, best practices, and provide some practical examples of seven-by-seven on-site solutions.
The PowerPoint problem
Simply put, most viewers don’t like PowerPoint. While the format has the benefit of speed and convenience, and can possibly be used to communicate information quickly and concisely, many presentations are too long and overloaded with bullet points that seem relevant but are actually just hot air. digital. In most cases, the disconnect between appearance and action is boring at best and irritating at worst. As noted by the BBCHowever, in extreme cases, such as the NASA Challenger Shuttle disaster, information missed in an overloaded presentation can have major consequences in the real world. Best bet? To avoid PowerPoint frustration and fatigue, it’s time for a new framework: the 7×7 rule.
What is the 7×7 rule in PowerPoint?
The 7×7 rule is simple: for each slide, use no more than seven lines of text, or seven bullets, and no more than seven words per line. Slide titles are not included in the count. There is no specific data to support the 7×7 model as ideal; some PointPower proselytizers consider 8×8 to be good enough, while others say 6×6 is simpler. The point here is not the strict number, but the underlying idea: eliminate extraneous information to improve the assimilation of the presentation. Slides can contain images, and should, whenever possible, but complying with the 7×7 rule helps reduce excess data that could be better shared in follow-up emails or individual discussions. In effect, the 7×7 rule is a way to reduce the amount of time staff spend pretending to care about PowerPoints and instead help them focus on the information on the slides that is relevant, contextual, and actionable.
Best practices for the 7×7 rule in PowerPoint
Creating a typical PowerPoint slide is easy. However, like any business practice, it can be improved with a standardized set of rules designed to limit waste and improve efficiency. And when it comes to most PowerPoint presentations, almost any change has a positive impact. Let’s look at some of the best practices for creating PowerPoint slides with the 7×7 rule.
1. Unique slide, unique concept.
Each slide should address a single concept rather than trying to connect the dots between multiple data points, trends, or ideas. While it’s fine to build on data from previous slides as the presentation progresses on a single slide, the single-concept approach helps focus presentation efforts from the start.
2. Images increase impact.
As noted above, images are a welcome addition to slides, as long as they are relevant. If you find yourself adding unrelated stock photos just to add some color, don’t do it. Keep your slides, text, and images up to date.
4. Forget the funny.
Almost everyone has a story about a “funny” PowerPoint joke that was nothing of the sort. In most cases, these heavy-handed humor efforts are seemingly wedged in to help viewers better remember the data on the slides. In fact, they divert focus from your primary goal.
5. Plan it.
Before creating your presentation, create a basic outline that highlights your main concept, how you plan to convey it, and how many total slides it should take. Then compose your slides. Take a break, review them, and cut back whenever possible.
6. Consider the 7x7x7.
If you really want to go for the 7×7 rule, consider adding another 7 and targeting no more than 7 words on each line, no more than 7 lines on each slide, and no more than 7 total slides. It is not easy, but it offers many more possibilities to get your point across.
7×7 rule in PowerPoint examples
So what does the 7×7 rule look like in practice? It’s one thing to talk about creating a better slide, but it’s easy to slip back into bad habits when it’s time to put together a presentation. It makes sense; Content creators are often trying to convey a significant amount of information in a short amount of time, and it’s easy to get sidetracked by the notion that all data must be included for the meeting to be a success. Let’s start with a slide that has been substantially removed from the 7×7 rule – there’s a lot to unpack here. We are using too many lines and too many words per line. The lines are complex without saying much, and the attempt at humor adds nothing. Let’s try again – this one is better – we have reduced the number of lines to 7 and lost the joke, but most of the lines are still over 7 words long and the text is too complicated. Let’s try one more time: this slide is clear and concise, and most of the lines are less than 7 characters long. It offers the same information as the first two versions, only it is more effective and efficient.
The 7×7 solution
While using 7 lines of text with 7 words or less isn’t a silver bullet for all PowerPoint-related problems, it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to increase viewer engagement and limit fatigue. Bottom line? PowerPoint isn’t always the ideal format to convey your point of view, but if you need to create a quick presentation that reaches your audience well, start with the 7×7 solution.