Dmytro Spilka
Dmytro Spilka 18 February 2019
Categories B2B

Formulaic Success: The Importance of Obeying The 10/20/30 Rule in Business Presentations

Conducting effective presentations is quite a challenge for most people. However, with Kawasaki's 10/20/30 rule, it becomes much simpler.

Who says success can’t be formulaic? According to marketing specialist and author Guy Kawasaki, success can be very formulaic - in the realm of conducting effective presentations at least. 

Kawasaki has achieved iconic status among venture capitalists, but he’s perhaps more universally known as the leading thinker behind the 10/20/30 rule of conducting presentations. 

Put simply, the 10/20/30 rule consists of 10 slides being presented over the course of no more than 20 minutes and featuring a font size of no more than 30 points. 

Such a refined range of rules may feel limiting to those in business who are tasked with pitching to clients, but the 10/20/30 rule is accepted as an ideal blueprint in ensuring that your content isn’t too diffuse to cover over a refined timeframe. 


Image Source: 180 Degrees Consulting

Since it was founded by Kawasaki, the 10/20/30 rule has amassed an army of disciples who follow this framework in a range of presentation scenarios. To help better understand the importance of obeying this demanding framework, let’s take a deeper look and break down the logic behind the 10/20/30:

Ten slides

10 is the optimal number of slides, Kawasaki maintains. This is because a normal human being can’t comprehend more than ten concepts in a presentation. 

While you may have a lot of points to make, conveying them in two-dozen slides or more runs the risk of bombarding your audience with too much information. If your content is important, it’s vital to ensure that they remember the key takeaways of your presentation - utilising more than 10 slides may cause readers to forget earlier points or lose their original train of thought entirely.

It could be good practice to approach the notion of 10 slides as a challenge when constructing your presentation. If your messages and ideas can be appropriated to a shorter number of slides, then you can ensure that you won’t get lost within your own presentation.

Keep things simple, and if you find that you have anything extra to say, it can be a good idea to communicate it to your audience verbally, as opposed to cramming your content on-screen.

Twenty minutes


Image Source: PoweredTemplate

As soon as you fire up a PowerPoint presentation or Google Slides - whichever you’re using, you can often feel sensations akin to being sat in a TARDIS. Suddenly, your 45-minute time slot vanishes before your eyes because your Windows laptop is failing to link to the big screen behind you, and the .ppt file feels like it’s lost in cyberspace after five minutes of failed attempts to be located on your USB stick.

20 minutes is plenty of time for a 10-slide presentation and then some. Unless the system you’re using is instantly recognisable, unforeseen errors tend to upset presentations designed to fit your time allocation perfectly.

Kawasaki writes that there are so many delays involved in giving an effective presentation that the 20 minutes is the only logical timeframe to adhere to. Even if the file is set up perfectly, there’s always the inevitable spectre of audience members arriving late and more questions than you’ve accounted for.

Allowing yourself two-minutes per slide is an ideal way of establishing a blueprint for the amount of time you should be allowing yourself to discuss each idea. 120 seconds can be the perfect amount of time to ensure that your audience has read what’s on screen, or interpreted each chart on view, and listened to what you’ve had to say.

Thirty points

Finally, you should be mindful to keep your text above 30 points at all times. Kawasaki anecdotally reasons that this is because: “the majority of the presentations that I see have text in a ten point font. As much text as possible is jammed into the slide, and then the presenter reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, it reads ahead of you because it can read faster than you can speak. The result is that you and the audience are out of synch.” 


Image Source: 97th Floor

Limiting yourself to no less than 30 point fonts means that you’ll no longer have to rely on the text on the screen to read out, meaning that you have the chance of forming a better bond with your audience by facing them instead of turning around to look at what you’ve written. 

It also prevents you from using a baffling level of text and information in your slides, eliminating the point you from even being there to read your content out. 

Be sure to obey the 30 point rule, and be prepared to learn your slides in order to stay aware of what thoughts and ideas to elaborate on when the time comes.

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