Monday, October 18, 2004

It's About Making it Easy!

"The Art of the Start": Guy Kawasaki Talks E-Mail

I drove down to the Silicon Valley Capital Club last week to hear Guy speak. To be completely honest, I didn't know much about him. But the title of the book sounded interesting, and since I would like to start a company at some point in my life, thought it would be worth the drive. And. . . it certainly was!

Guy is a very charismatic speaker and packed a lot of information into his 30 minute presentation. I have not yet read the book--but will be shortly--but based on the little bit of information in the ClickZ article, as well as several of the points in his presentation, this book is a good read not only for those who are trying to persuade a VC to fund their company but also for those marketers trying to persuade.

One bit of advice he imparts is the "10/20/30 Rule". This rule is applied when a person makes a presentation and refers to the advice that you should have no more than 10 slides, the presentation should last 20 minutes, and the size of the font used on each slide should be no smaller than a 30 point. Now to many, this seems a little ridiculous, but for many more this is great advice. I can remember my days at SpeedChip when the president of the company required that our presentation be 50+ pages, of which many pages consisted of paragraphs of 10pt fonts. You certainly don't want your audience to be confused or left with a blank stare. . . and one of the easiest ways to accomplish that is with information overload. I also remember the first time I took a group of prospective clients on a tour of our facilities at VisionQuest. The tour lasted over about 2 hours and during that time we tried to give them our entire treatment philosophy--developed over a period of 25 years--as well as numerous other tidbits we thought were very important. The result? Very blank stares when we finished the tour. And most likely, they weren't able to recall the most important bits of information we tried to impart. Hence, before the next tour I sat down with the key players and asked what were the three most important messages we wanted clients to know when they either read our brochures, attended and event, or went on a tour. From that time forward, we worked on eliminating the excess clutter and focusing all of our messaging on emphasizing the three important points.

Another bit of advice Guy touched on was to "lower barriers to adoption". To go back to the last entry I wrote about MEPIS, I think this point holds especially true. In order to lower the barriers to adoption (for technology), you need to have a design goal of flattening the learning curve. My perception of Linux was that it was very cumbersome and you had to be a computer programmer to utilize it. Actually, I think that was the perception of many people. . . which is why not a lot of people use Linux on their desktop. However, with MEPIS rolling out its point-n-click version. . . it really drops those barriers that many people have regarding Linux. Now. . . we'll just need to see how good of a job they do in communicating that message.

Overall, the presentation by Guy was fantastic and I strongly recommend that if you get the chance to listen to him speak that you do so.