Presentation Tips

What Is The 10/20/30 Rule For Presentations And Why It's Important For Your Team

Jordan Turner
 | 
October 29, 2021
 | 
7
 min read
What Is The 10/20/30 Rule For Presentations And Why It's Important For Your TeamWhat Is The 10/20/30 Rule For Presentations And Why It's Important For Your Team

Presentations are an integral part of team workflow. From internal communications and reporting, to client-facing proposals and pitches, presentations keep everyone on the same page. Or in this case, on the same slide.

While collaboration is great, having too many cooks in the kitchen can make things messy. In regards to presentations, it’s important to have brand guidelines and rules in place to ensure all company decks are consistent and professional. In Beautiful.ai, our Team plan helps team members collaborate with content management and branding control settings in place so that less design-savvy departments can’t make a mess of a deck. But still, your team might need additional rules to help them achieve the most effective (and efficient) deck possible.

One of our favorite standards to follow is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 presentation rule. Not sure what we’re talking about? Let us elaborate. 

What is the 10/20/30 rule for presentations?

The ever-popular 10/20/30 rule was coined by Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon-Valley based author, speaker, entrepreneur, and evangelist. Kawasaki suffers from Ménière’s disease which results in occasional hearing loss, tinnitus (a constant ringing sound), and vertigo— something that he suspects can be triggered by boring presentations (among other medically-proven things). While he may have been kidding about presentations affecting his Ménière’s, it did inspire him to put an end to snooze-worthy pitches once and for all. As a venture capitalist, he’s no stranger to entrepreneurship, pitches, and everything in between. We’d be willing to bet that he’s heard his fair share of pitches that have fallen on deaf ears (almost literally, in his case). 

To save the venture capital community from death-by-PowerPoint, he evangelized the 10/20/30 rule for presentations which states that “a presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.” 

Why it’s important

Because we’re passionate about our own stories, we’d like to think that our audience will feel the same way. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. You could be presenting the most groundbreaking topic, to the most interested audience, and you still might lose people to distractions or boredom. Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule ensures that your presentation is legible and concise, making it more retainable, resulting in bigger wins for your team. 

10 Slides

You’ve heard us say that less is more when it comes to presentations, and Kawasaki’s rule really drives that point home. You can’t expect your audience to comprehend (and remember) more than 10 concepts from one meeting, so keeping your presentation to 10 slides is the sweet spot. Each slide should focus on its own key takeaway, and it should be clear to the audience what you want them to learn from the presentation. While Kawasaki applies this to the venture capitalist world— and the 10 slides you absolutely need in your pitch— this is a good rule of thumb for internal meetings, proposals, and sales decks, too. 

20 Minutes

When was the last time you sat through a 90-minute presentation and thought, “this is great, I’m going to remember everything.” That’s a rhetorical question, but it’s probably safe to assume the answer is never. It’s normal for people to lose focus, get distracted, or run through their to-do list in their head while watching a presentation, and it has nothing to do with you or your topic. To keep your audience engaged and interested, keep it short and sweet. Regardless of the time you have blocked out for the meeting, your team should aim to keep their presentation under 20 minutes. If there’s time leftover, use that for discussion to answer questions and drive your point home. 

30 Point font

If your audience has to strain their eyes to read your slides, they probably won’t bother to read them at all. Regardless of the age of your audience, no one wants to squint their way through a 20-minute presentation. Kawasaki’s rule of thumb is to keep all text to 30 point font or bigger. Of course, the bigger the font, the less text you’ll be able to fit. This is a good exercise to decide what information you really need on the slide, and what you can do without. By making your slides more legible for your audience, you’re encouraging them to follow along. Additionally, being intentional about what your team includes on each slide helps the audience know exactly what you want them to pay attention to in the presentation. 

Applying the 10/20/30 presentation rule in Beautiful.ai 

Now that you know what Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule is, let’s apply it to your next team presentation. 

In Beautiful.ai, our pre-built presentation templates make it easy for you to start inspired. Simply browse our inspiration gallery, curated by industry experts, pick the template that speaks to you and customize it with your own content. Most of our deck templates are well within the 10 slide standard, so you’ll be on the right track (the Kawasaki way).  

Once you’re in the deck, our Smart Slides handle the nitty gritty design work so that you don’t have to. Changing the font size is easy, and our design AI will let you know if the size is too big or too long for the space on the slide. You can choose your favorite (legible) font when customizing your presentation theme, and that font will be applied to each slide throughout the deck for a cohesive and consistent look. 

Of course, it’s all for naught if you don’t practice. We recommend doing a few dry runs in the mirror, or in front of your dog, to get the timing of your presentation right. Remember, 20 minutes is the magic number here. 

Jordan Turner

Jordan Turner

Jordan is a Bay Area writer, social media manager, and successful blogger. Check out TheOceanMinded.com or find her on Instagram @theoceanminded.