What Is the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint?

Despite the many PowerPoint presentations I’ve given in my life, I’ve always struggled to understand best practices for creating them. I know they have to look good, but figuring out how to make them aesthetically pleasing and informative is difficult.

I’m sure my experience isn’t unique as it can be difficult to find the right balance between content, design, and timing. Marketers know this more than anyone, as success in this role is often marked by being able to create engaging campaigns that tell a story and inspire audiences to take certain actions, like buying a product.

However, PowerPoint presentations are different from ads. Understanding how to use your marketing knowledge in creating PowerPoints can be difficult. However, there are various resources that marketers can use when creating presentations. One of them is the rule of 10/20/30.

What is the 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint?

PowerPoint’s 10/10/30 rule is a simple concept: no PowerPoint presentation should contain more than ten slides, longer than 20 minutes, and fonts less than 30 points in size.

Coined by Guy Kawasaki, The Rule is a tool for marketers to use to create great PowerPoint presentations. Each element of the formula helps marketers strike a balance between design and conceptual explanations so that they can grab audience attention, highlight your points, and improve readability.

Guy Kawasaki PowerPoint

Guy Kawasaki, an early Apple employee, advocated the concept of a “brand evangelist” to describe his position. He spent most of his time building a follower base for Macintosh, the Apple computer family. Today he works as a brand evangelist for Canva, an online graphic design tool.

Given his extensive experience of making presentations to engage audiences, he has found that 10/20/30 is a winning formula to follow. He first introduced the concept and described how it works in Kawasaki’s book Art of The Start.

Let’s cover each part of the rule in more detail.

10 slides

Kawasaki believes that understanding more than ten concepts during a presentation is challenging for the audience. With this in mind, marketers should aim to create PowerPoints with no more than ten slides, i.e. ten ideas that you will explain. Using fewer slides and focusing on the critical elements can help your audience understand the concepts you are sharing with them.

In practice, this means creating slides that are specific and straight to the point. Suppose you showcase the success of your last campaign. Your marketing strategy has likely been extensive and you have taken a number of different actions to achieve your bottom line. Instead of outlining every aspect of your campaign, you would use your slides to outline the main elements of your strategy. This could look like individual slides to summarize the problem you wanted to solve, your goals, the steps you took to achieve your goals, and post-campaign analytics data that summarizes your achievements.

It’s important to note that your slides shouldn’t contain an overwhelming amount of text. You want them to be precise. Your audience should get most of the information from the words you speak. Your slides should be complementary rather than explanatory.

20 minutes

After you’ve worked out your top ten points, you need to present them in 20 minutes. Knowing that you only have 20 minutes to spare will also make it easier to plan and structure your presentation because you know how much time has to be spent on each slide so that you can address all the relevant points.

Kawasaki acknowledges that presentation windows can often be longer, but hitting the 20-minute mark leaves time for valuable discussion and questions and answers. Saving time in your presentation also leaves room for technical difficulties.

30 point font

If you’ve been in the audience during a presentation, you probably know that reading slides in small print and taking your attention away from the speaker can be difficult.

Kawasaki’s last rule is that no font in your presentation should be smaller than 30 points. If you’ve already followed the previous rules, you should be able to display your key points on your slides in a font large enough for users to read. Because your key points are short and focused, your audience won’t be able to read a lot of text and they will spend more time listening to you.

Given the average recommended font size for accessibility of 16, using a 30-point font ensures that all members of your audience can read and interact with your slides.

Make your presentations more engaging

The 10/20/30 PowerPoint rule is designed to help marketers create powerful presentations.

Each element of the rule works together with the other: if you limit yourself to 10 slides, you need to choose the main points that you want to present to your audience. A 20-minute timeline can help ensure that you’re contextualizing these slides as you speak, without dealing with unnecessary information. Using a 30-point font can serve as a final check on your presentation as it emphasizes the importance of only showing key points on your slides, rather than large blocks of text. Font size then returns to the ten slides as you use your key points to create sentences that fit on your slides in 30-point font.

When you factor in the number of slides, the text size, and the length of the presentation, your audience will be captivated by your words as you explain the value behind your work.

PowerPoint slides

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