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Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule of Presentation: Is It Still Relevant?

PowerPoint is a superb presentation tool, which, when used properly, can be an effective visual aid for professional speakers. However, at the hands of inexperienced presenters who have no eye for design, it can pave the way for jarring and unattractive slides. Sad to say, the world of business is teeming with mediocre pitch decks that just don’t do justice to the ability of PowerPoint as a great design tool. Luckily, there are people like Canva Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who can show the noobs how it should be done.

Kawasaki advocated the 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint, which banks on the idea that a presentation “should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.” Although Kawasaki originally meant it to be for entrepreneurs and startup business owners, this principle applies to all types of presentations. By following this guide, you can avoid basic design mistakes and ultimately stand out from the vast sea of lackluster presentations.

Why the 10-20-30 Rule Is Still Relevant Today

Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule is now more than a decade old—which, we can all agree, is a long time for any virtual rule to last, what with the constant and almost abrupt changes that technology makes. Although PowerPoint is still the most recognizable presentation design software in recent history, it’s no longer the only one in the book. A number of competitors have emerged, and they all have something relevant to offer. Apart from that, the way people use PowerPoint has also changed over time. What was invaluable ten years ago may not be as important today.

Now, this begs the question, “Does the 10-20-30 Rule still apply?” The answer to this is short and clear: YES. Here’s why.

1. Presenters still cram several ideas into one pitch deck

You’d think a lot would have changed in a decade. Well, in the case of slide design, nothing much has improved. Don’t get this wrong—agencies specializing in presentation design have emerged over the years, and they have indeed elevated the landscape. It’s the individual presenters who have not fully maximized the use of PowerPoint that still make the same mistakes. Despite professionals strongly advising against it, some presenters still cram multiple ideas into one pitch deck. They don’t even bother to filter out the unnecessary stuff and keep only the crucial points.

When Kawasaki first proposed the 10-20-30 Rule, he also suggested ten topics for the ten slides: the problem, the solution, the business model, the underlying technology, sales and marketing, the competition, the team, projections and milestones, status and timeline, and summary and call to action.

So, instead of filling each slide with unnecessary text, why not try to identify your salient points first and then make an outline based on them? Use as little text as possible to avoid overwhelming your audience with a barrage of ideas. If a slide isn’t necessary, do away with it. Remember, you are the star of your presentation, not the pitch deck or anything else. Make sure that all focus remains on you.

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2. People’s attention span is getting shorter

We’re in the age of social media, where the best content is short and fast, and people appreciate things that don’t take much of their time. Attention spans have become relatively shorter, to the point that people are growing more impatient and expectant—a combination that is hard to satisfy. This is why when delivering a presentation, you should always be considerate of your audience’s time and level of interest. Even if you’re given an hour to present, prepare for a speech that doesn’t last longer than twenty minutes. You can use the extra time for setting up your equipment or holding a Q&A session.

“But I have something extremely important to say!” you may argue. Well, that doesn’t give you any reason to go beyond the suggested time frame. Look at the universally-renowned TED talks for example. Speakers are expected to deliver their speeches in eighteen minutes or less, and that doesn’t stop them from communicating brilliant ideas that are worth sharing. If you have an imposed time constraint, you’ll be forced to edit your speech meticulously until it’s down to the bare necessities. Trim down all the unnecessary stuff so that you can put the essentials in the spotlight.

3. Readability is a crucial factor that’s still being sidelined

The number one rule of presentations is simple: The audience is the boss. Wherever you are in the presentation process, you should always put the audience at the forefront of your mind. For instance, what the people at the front row sees should be seen clearly by those in the back row as well. Optimize the font size of your text to accommodate all of your viewers. When you see people squinting at your slide, take the hint that something’s not right.

Another reason why the thirty-point-font rule should still be reinforced today is that it encourages you to limit the number of words you can put in each slide. As much as possible, don’t overload your slides with information. Remember that your goal is not to bombard your audience with ideas but to present them a few that can change their lives for the better.

Is the 10-20-30 Rule Absolute?

Kawasaki didn’t mean for the 10-20-30 Rule to be followed religiously by all business presenters. Instead, he set it as a guideline for people who want to improve their pitch decks, and consequently, their presentations. The fact remains that each situation is unique, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule that applies to all.

Instead of asking how many slides you should have, ask how many you need. Also, instead of going with the twenty-minute rule, why not apply the one-third rule, which suggests that the length of your speech should be one-third of the time you’re given? That is, after all, the original idea that Kawasaki proposed. Lastly, you can bend the thirty-point-font rule without breaking it. It’s only the minimum font size recommended, so you can go higher as the number of words you use per slide decreases. Ultimately, you should consider the needs of your audience instead of mindlessly jumping on the bandwagon. What works for one may not always work for you.

Twelve years later and Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule is still as effective as ever. If every presenter applies these three timeless guidelines, the landscape of presentation design will be infinitely better.

Resources:

Dlugan, Andrew. “The 10-20-30 Rule: Guy Kawasaki on PowerPoint.” Six Minutes. June 10, 2010. sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-20-30-rule-guy-kawasaki-powerpoint

Jonson, Laura. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint: Does It Still Work?” SlideShare. January 13, 2016. blog.slideshare.net/2016/01/13/the-102030-rule-of-powerpoint-does-it-still-work

Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” Guy Kawasaki. December 30, 2005. guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

“Follow the 10-20-30 Rule for a Perfect PowerPoint Presentation.” Presentation Load. October 17, 2013. blog.presentationload.com/follow-10-20-30-rule-perfect-powerpoint-presentation

5 PowerPoint Pitch Deck Tips For SEO-Friendly Slides

There are plenty of great benefits in creating a solid content marketing strategy.

As we’ve discussed before, we found that it’s an easy way to connect and engage with consumers. By sharing content that is relevant to them, you help them create an emotional connection with your brand.

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Of course, gaining leads through this method isn’t always easy. Sure, sharing your PowerPoint slides on the Internet does introduce your brand to a wider audience. The problem is that it might take them a while to find your content, even if you’ve created slides that are relevant and useful for them.

To nudge these potential consumers in your direction, let your slides stand out. The way to do that is by making your PowerPoint and pitch deck presentations SEO-friendly.

BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu stresses that unlike its earlier stages, SEO content no longer means stuffing your work with random keywords, but incorporating them into meaningful and well-researched content.

So how can you optimize your PowerPoint’s searchability? Follow our five tips:

Optimize your title slide

The title slide is an important part of your presentation, especially if you’re sharing it online. It’s the first thing that people will see when they’re browsing and come across your PowerPoint deck on SlideShare or any other site.

It’s also the title slide that will help them decide if your content is relevant to their interests. As such, optimize your title slide.

Take the time to craft the perfect title for your presentation, which needs to contain the keyword you’re optimizing for. The keyword should flow naturally with the single phrase you come up with.

Also have visuals that match your creative and SEO-friendly title. While the keyword helps search engines decide that your content is a match, it’s the visuals that will capture your target audience’s attention.

Use long tail keywords in the content

Using keywords shouldn’t stop at the title slide. The long tail keywords you choose should also be incorporated to the content of your slides.

For SEO beginners, that means you should incorporate keywords that are quite specific to the topic you’re discussing and optimizing for. This way, your content doesn’t get buried under millions of results for a general search term.

HubSpot contributor, Corey Wainwright, explains the use of long tail keywords. Such keywords flow naturally with the rest of your writing. Doing otherwise might end up alienating your audience.

Provide an accurate description

Aside from content, you also have to provide an accurate and thought-provoking meta description of your presentation.

Focus on the core message of your presentation and make sure that stands out in what you write.

A good description isn’t too long. A few, quick sentences will do. This will serve as the space where you can include information about your company, like links to your website and social media profiles.

Carefully tag your pitch deck presentation

Another crucial step to SEO-friendly slides are the tags. Sites like SlideShare allows up to 20 for your presentation.

Tags are keywords that will make it easier to categorize and find your content. Make sure you use those that are relevant to your content and your brand.

Tagging random keywords might damage you in the long run by marking you as spam. Always relate your tags to what your presentation is actually about.

Share presentation on social media

Finally, it’s time to share your presentation on social media platforms. When you upload your PowerPoint deck, you don’t have to sit around and wait for the audience to appear.

Do the heavy lifting and take your presentation to them. Share links to your newly-uploaded PowerPoint pitch deck presentation on your social media profiles. This will give your followers a heads up.

In turn, they can share it on their own profiles or websites. Search engines prioritize results that have plenty of back links. The more you share your pitch deck presentation, the larger your reach will become.

Sharing your presentations online can help you reach out to a wider audience. Do it right by making sure your PowerPoint slides have SEO advantage. Take note of these tips and do your best to connect and engage with consumers through the large world of the Internet.

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References:

Content Marketing Lesson: Presentations Create More Impact.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 13, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2015.
Wainwright, Corey. “The Ultimate Guide for Mastering Long Tail SearchHubSpot. Accessed January 29, 2015.
Perfecting Your Presentation Title Slide.” SlideGenius, Inc.. October 16, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2015.
Yu, Jim. “5 Steps To An Integrated Approach To SEO-Friendly Content Marketing.” Marketing Land. March 11, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2015.

 

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