The ‘Power’ of PowerPoint

The 10-20-30 rule for presentations

The 10-20-30 rule for presentations

If you’ve had a desk job, you’ve probably used PowerPoint because it’s been the go-to package for presentations for YEARS. Quick question – how many of the presentations do you remember? Do you remember them because they were eye-wateringly good or a total snoozefest and ugly to boot? Chances are the majority of them were simply mediocre and unmemorable.

So, it’s likely that you don’t remember much about them at all? It’s a shame really because PowerPoint is a great tool… in the right hands. So, what’s the formula for a great presentation? Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule states that a presentation “should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”

10-20-30 rule for presentations

10 slides – think about your audience, ten slides is a digestible number and should be plenty for your key messages. If you need more you might want to reconsider what you are pitching and break it up into more bite-sized chunks.

20 minutes – if you have a presenting slot of one hour, you need to leave time for people to arrive late and leave early, as well as time for questions.

30 point font – presenters often try to put as much content as possible on their slides including the full script of the presentation! Because of this the font size is often so small that even those in the first row have to squint. As well as suffering from eye strain the audience cannot read and listen at the same time. So you have divided their attention between you and the slides. You should know your material inside out and only have key points on the slides. Your purpose is to talk through them in more detail.


Is the 10-20-30 rule still relevant more than 10+ years later?

Well, for one thing, although still leading the pack PowerPoint is no longer the only presentation software in the game. Google Slides and Keynote are just two of the available alternatives. The way we present is also different. In the last 18 months or so with remote working becoming prevalent. With these things in mind, it’s interesting to examine whether or not Kawasaki’s rule is still a thing in 2024.

The state of 2024

We see a lot of presentations here at Presented and I can confirm that presenters are still stuffing all of the information into their decks. We advise on messaging to highlight key information and using infographics instead of reams of text, but the trend still seems to be more is more. AND we rarely work on decks with less than 30 slides, let alone 10!

Is it just me or does 20 minutes seem like a lot to ask of an audience nowadays? Thanks to the titanic rise of social media over the last decade, short videos (see TikTok with its three minute limit) have become standard. Audiences expect fast-paced content and for it to be both engaging and entertaining. In principle the rule still applies, keep it short, although for 2022 I’d revise 20 minutes down even further. Literally strim your presentation down to the barest of necessities.

Here’s a word for you – accessibility. We tend to think of it as relating to disability but here we should think of it as making our slides accessible to as many people as possible. So, use a nice large font if you are presenting in front of an audience. Go and sit at the back as a test. Can you read the words on the slide?  If not, pump it up, even if it means editing your wording down (especially if it means that, actually).

The 10-20-30 rule for presentations in 2024, yay or nay?

Weighing up the impact of how things have moved on in the last decade the rule still applies, with some slight tweaks. Short and snappy is key both in terms of the number of slides and the length of time you are talking. Size still matters, although for virtual presentations 30pts might be a bit excessive, so consider your method of delivery.

It’s just a guide folks, but if you are new to the presenting business you could do a lot worse than follow Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule for presentations. Or better still, contact us do it for you!