You've just been asked to give a project update to your colleagues at next week's lunch-hour seminar. PPT? Quick… How many slides will you use? How much text can you put on them? How long should you speak — the whole hour, or less? Don't know? Guy Kawasaki, a famous author and venture capitalist, has the answers and they may surprise you. What is the 10-20-30 Rule for PowerPoint? 10 slides are the optimal number to use for a presentation. 20 minutes is the longest amount of time you should speak. 30 point font is the smallest font size you should use on your slides.
1. 10 slides constrains the presenter to choose wisely. Sure, 10 may seem like an arbitrary number, but putting a limit on the number of slides you are allowed is valuable. Most people probably have 20, or 30, or 100 slides for a 1-hour presentation. Trimming this number down to 10 forces you to evaluate the necessity of every slide. Just like every element of your presentation, if the slide isn't necessary, it should be cut. It also encourages a presenter to design wisely. Often a single well-designed diagram eliminates the need for 5 bullet-point slides.
2. 20 minutes is long enough to communicate something big. Just like the constraint on the number of slides, a constraint on your speaking time will force you to edit mercilessly. Trim the sidebar jokes. Trim the gratuitous "I'm happy to be here" pleasantries. Trim the stories which aren't essential to conveying your message. Trim the details that only 5% of the audience cares about — send them out via email later. When you are able to trim all the extras, you can communicate with precision and concision. Martin Luther King Jr. only needed 17 minutes to share his dream. What makes you think you need more?
3. 30-point font guarantees readability. Unless you have a very large audience and a very small projector screen, 30-point font should be readable by everyone in your audience. Bigger is probably better, but this is a sensible lower threshold to adopt.While a 30-point font still allows you to put too many words on a slide, at least your audience will be able to read them.
If everyone were to follow this advice, the overall quality of business presentations everywhere would improve dramatically.
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