Presentation Preference: The 10-20-30 Rule

I first read about Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 approach to focused presentations not long after he coined the approach back in ’05. While his revelation on the ideal presentation was aimed at making the endless presentations delivered to him as a venture capitalist more effective, it’s a fantastic go-by rule to use for most any presentation.

10-20-30The minimalist approach is designed to maximize attention, put the focus on the presenter where it should always be, and limit the strain on attention span thus ultimately avoiding the dreaded death-by-PowerPoint syndrome. The approach has three rules:

  • 10 slides – optimum number for attention spans and still lets you go from problem to solution to summary then finally your call to action.
  • 20 minutes – again, optimum length of time for attention that leaves time for questions, discussions, or strengthening connections.
  • 30 point type – at this size all you can fit on the slide is your key point. Bingo. That leaves you as the presenter to sell your concepts with your story, your own words, and avoid what is the most heinous crime in all of PowerPointLand:  reading your slides to your audience.

In my years of doing presentation rescues, I’ve seen them range from slides stuffed to the gills with words, way too many font styles, cutesy graphics, distracting animations or sounds, you name it. And along the way I’ve quietly tried to instill the 10-20-30 approach as best I could. There were small victories of course, but for the most part I lost the war. Anything I produced from scratch, however, strived to keep the spirit of 10-20-30 alive despite the pull from clients to always stuff more into the slides!

If nothing else, following 10-20-30 makes you reassess your slides and produce ones more interesting and possibly, hopefully, worth remembering by your audience.