October 17, 2013

Follow the 10-20-30 Rule for a Perfect PowerPoint Presentation

So how does a perfect PowerPoint presentation look like? Many referees ask themselves this question and tons of books and blog articles have been published on this issue. Some of these “How to” books are quite helpful and others entirely useless. Some tips and tricks, however, have been used successfully for many years now – like the 10-20-30 rule by presentation-expert Guy Kawasaki.

What Does This Rule Stand for?

The 10-20-30 rule is a simple yet effective way to enhance any presentation. It will help structure and organize your speech as well as simplify the layout and design of your PowerPoint presentation. You can easily avoid design mistakes by abiding to this rule.

So what is the rule all about? It’s simple: A presentation should have no more than 10 slides, should not take longer than 20 minutes and have a font of 30pt.

Here the Rule in Detail

10: In a nutshell – according to Kawasaki ten is the optimal amount of slides for any successful business presentation. Presentations with more than ten slides will tire the audience and their concentration will wane. This does not mean, however, that you should try to press as much information as possible into these ten slides. Rather concentrate on your key messages. As a guideline, Kawasaki lists ten key terms which can be taken as an orientation:

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

According to your individual topic, these ten terms may of course be adapted by you.

20: Present your topic in a time frame of twenty minutes, even if there is more time at hand. Always keep in mind that technical difficulties can arise, attendees may be late or other unexpected disturbances may delay your presentation. This is why it is reasonable to only present for twenty minutes and use the remaining time for a discussion or questions.

30: Use a 30pt font. This way you avoid overloading your slides with text and information. The majority of presentations are created with a 10pt font, which is way too small. The audience has a hard time reading the small font and quickly loses interest. To get your audience’s attention, rather win them with simplicity and clarity than with full slides. If you feel 30pt is too small, at least use the 20pt for your slides!

Business team applauding

© Edyta Pawlowska – Fotolia.com


Who Should Apply the 10-20-30-Rule?

In general, this rule is applicable for any presentation on any topic. The rule is easy to memorize and gives you a good basis to create a successful presentation. It is so general that you do not have to apply it solely to business topics but may also use it for any other subject. Always keep in mind though that the 10-20-30 rule is a guideline and can be adapted accordingly.

Our tip: Do not set strict limits: a good presentation may only have eight slides or even twelve. And of course it may be reasonable to present 30 minutes, if you feel you need the time. However, anything longer than half an hour will tire your audience and may not leave enough time for a discussion. By using the 10-20-30 rule you will be able to keep track of your presentational structure and can focus more thoroughly on your key message.



featured image: © mai414 / Fotolia.com

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