Silicon Valley venture capitalist and author Guy Kawasaki recommends that slideshow presenters use the 10-20-30 rule to make their presentations concise and engaging. When Kawasaki first started promoting this rule in the early 2000s, it made sense. But is it relevant for every situation? And is it still widely applicable today? Twenty years have passed, and there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't bother with the 10-20-30 rule.
Let’s begin by having a closer look at the rule and the reasoning behind it. The “rule” is this: 10 slides, 20 minutes, no fonts smaller than 30 points.
Normal human beings (yes, that includes venture capitalists) cannot retain more than 10 concepts in one meeting. Oftentimes, 10 slides are to cover the main points of a proposal, including a problem, solution, etc.
Kawasaki recommends a 20-minute presentation cap for three reasons. First, it allows time to remedy possible technical problems like making your laptop work with the projector. Second, this accommodates guests who can’t dedicate a full hour to the meeting. Third, a 20-minute presentation leaves a full 40 minutes for questions and discussion.
Live presentations with too much text are said to be disengaging because the audience skips ahead to read the text instead of listening to the presenter. Using text sparingly forces the presenter to be well prepared and have a sound understanding of their material.
The idea of simplifying presentations is a good one, especially for start-ups that are notorious for packing too much content into introductory pitches. However, applying this as a blanket guideline to all presentations doesn't make sense, especially since it has been nearly 20 years since Kawasaki introduced the idea.
Here are three reasons why you shouldn't bother with the 10-20-30 rule, and why it's less relevant today.
There are many alternative guidelines for presentations that make sense in today's digital environment. For example, the 7x7 rule is gaining a following. (No more than seven lines of text or bullet points per slide, and no more than seven words per line.)
The best rule, though, is to not worry about following one rule. Spend more time tailoring the presentation to its intended audience, venue and purpose rather than worrying about general suggestions. Just be sure that it is cohesive, organized, and readable.
To avoid dull and uninspiring slides, be innovative. A PowerPoint presentation designer will help you create an informative, engaging slide deck with high-quality graphics to grab and keep your audience's attention from start to finish. Hiring a professional designer means that you won’t have to worry about any of the design elements that usually stress you out. You are guaranteed an impressive-looking presentation!
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