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10/20/30: Why the Rule Should Be Used in Presentations

Are you familiar with the 10/20/30 rule? It states that a presentation should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and should not have a font sizes less than 30 pt. 

This rule was made due to the gradual decrease of people’s attention spans. Making presentations concise and straightforward will save time while still getting the core message across. 

Let us elaborate.

10 Slides 

It can be quite a challenge to comprehend more than 10 concepts during a meeting. 

The 10/20/30 rule suggests using 10 slides to discuss your core message, and provides the following example flow of topics for investor proposals and venture capitalist presentations:

  • Problem 
  • Your solution 
  • Business model 
  • Underlying magic/technology 
  • Marketing and sales 
  • Competition 
  • Team 
  • Projections and milestones 
  • Status and timeline 
  • Summary and call-to-action 

Remember these if you want to get your point across in a concise and straightforward way. Depending on the type of presentation you’re giving, you can tweak these to fit your purpose, but try to keep your slides to a 10 slide minimum, with a visible flow like the one above.

20 Minutes 

Ideally, a 10-slide presentation would only take 20 minutes to finish. Beyond that and you’ll start losing your audience’s attention. 

Keep your presentations short so you can address questions and other concerns at the end. 

30pt Font Size 

People usually use smaller font sizes to cram chunks of information into their slides. Doing so might distract your audience from listening to you and leave them unable to focus or retain the information you present. They may also question whether you are familiar with your own material. A straightforward presentation will assure the audience that you know the topic well enough to explain it in a way that they will understand, especially if they’re new to the concept. 

Use a larger font and remove the unnecessary details. Remember, your presentation shouldn’t do the talking for you, but instead, be there to guide your audience. 

Use the 10/20/30 rule as a consistent baseline to keep your audience engaged during your next presentation. Working within its boundaries will push you to craft a more refined presentation that focuses purely on the essentials, leaving out any distractions for your audience. It’s important to remember that people naturally have a limit to their attention span. This simple and effective rule is meant to guide you in creating a presentation that fits fully within the peak time of your audience’s attention. It’s at that point when your message is most effective and will lead to a more memorable experience for all.

Apply the 10/20/30 Rule to Your PowerPoint Presentations Now

Guy Kawasaki is a successful venture capitalist who has been writing books about the trade since 1987.

A few years back, he wrote a short blog advocating a simple rule for PowerPoint & pitch deck presentations. He called it the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.

According to the 10/20/30 rule:

…a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.

Kawasaki came up with this quick presentation style due to his line of business, citing how he’d often listen to dozens of pitches in a short period of time.

However, even if you’re not in the venture capital business, the 10/20/30 rule can still be applicable to your goals.

Given people’s increasingly shortening attention spans, keeping your presentation compact can save all of you time while still getting the meat of your message across.

Here we expound on each of Kawasaki’s points. But first, the 10/20/30 Rule in his own words:

Rule #1: 10 Slides

Kawasaki pointed out that it’s challenging to comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting.

Most people assume that you need to be highly detailed in order to be impressive, but this isn’t always the case.

The 10/20/30 rule also suggests that you use the ten slides to tackle all the topics important to your audience. For a venture capitalist, these topics are the following:

  1. Problem
  2. Your solution
  3. Business model
  4. Underlying magic/technology
  5. Marketing and sales
  6. Competition
  7. Team
  8. Projections and milestones
  9. Status and timeline
  10. Summary and call to action

Use this list as a guide when you’re trying to condense your presentations into neat, salient points.

Depending on the type of presentation you’re giving, you can tweak these to fit your purpose, but try to keep your slides to a minimum, with a visible flow like the one above.

Rule #2: 20 Minutes

You should be done with your ten-slide presentation in twenty minutes.

Kawasaki would often allot an hour to hear an entrepreneurial pitch, but most of the time gets lost in other things. (For instance, your laptop might take a while to sync with the projector.)

Emergencies might also pull your audience away from the meeting. It’s best to keep your presentation short so that you’ll also have time to address questions and other concerns.

Rule #3: 30-pt Font Size

Kawasaki observed that the only reason people used smaller font sizes is to be able to cram huge chunks of text into a slide.

In doing so, your audience may perceive that you’re not familiar with the material and that you’re using the PowerPoint as a teleprompter.

The 10/20/30 rule forces you to use a larger font, so you can cut back on unnecessary details. Remember: you’re the one who has to do the talking, not your PowerPoint presentation.

10 slides in 20 minutes using a font no smaller than 30 points. Easy enough, right?

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Featured Image: Lostium Project via Flickr

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Even the best speakers can only do so much. To give audiences a clearer picture, you need a deck that reflects your talent, passion, and dedication.

Consistently seal the deal by making winning pitches with these tips:

Plan Ahead

To determine what should and shouldn’t be in your slides, ask yourself:

What do you want to say?
How do you want to say it?
Why should your audience care about your offer?

Knowing your objectives focuses your presentation, letting you know exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it, and why your audience should care.

Planning ahead and determining your objectives give you a better idea of your presentation’s flow, letting you set a unifying story to engage your audience. These lead to more benefits in the long run.

Keep It Short

The best PowerPoint presentations keep it short but straightforward.

Don’t turn your deck into mere bullet points of your speech. Nothing tunes out an audience more than a presenter reading straight from his projected slides.

Renowned Silicon Valley marketing specialist Guy Kawasaki is a proponent of the 10/20/30 rule. He believes that effective presentations need only ten slides.

While this isn’t a strict rule, it’s a good guide to keep your deck lean and mean. According to him, these are the most important parts to discuss in your deck:

  1. Problem
  2. Solution
  3. Business Model
  4. Underlying Magic/Technology
  5. Marketing and Sales
  6. Competition
  7. Team
  8. Projections and Milestones
  9. Status and Timeline
  10. Summary and Call-to-Action

There are many variations for winning slide combinations, but this quick guide is a reasonable place to start making your own winning deck.

Show, Don’t Tell

Investment PowerPoint slides

Pictures speak a thousand words, but so can other multimedia elements. Videos and simple animations are ideal for keeping your audiences interested because people think visually, with images being processed 60,000 times faster than text.

Why waste a hundred words spread across two slides for something that can be explained by one image, graph, chart, or video?

Imbue Your Deck with Passion

Potential clients won’t believe a halfhearted presentation. Put passion into your deck by giving it a powerful central story.

People relate better to a narrative they can personally connect with. Research your audience beforehand and figure out a story that help them understand you better.

Portray your competitors or central problem as a villain, and yourself and your product as the protagonist. Structure your presentation as a narrative with an exposition, a climax, and a conclusion. Bring much needed life into a presentation by using storytelling elements to hook your listeners in.

Conclusion

When introducing your brand, audiences aren’t only judging you, but your whole presentation, too.

Be your personal best when facing the crowd. As a representative of a bigger picture, you can’t deny the importance of having a professional-looking deck to back you up.

If you need to make a winning first impression now, contact our slide geniuses for consistently great PowerPoint Presentations that seal the deal. Contact us now for a free quote!

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References

Craft Your Corporate Presentations into a Great Story.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 15, 2015. Accessed June 22, 2015.
Why Every SEO Strategy Needs Infographics.” WMG. 2014. Accessed June 22, 2015.
The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” Guy Kawasaki. 2005. Accessed June 22, 2015.