As a professional presenter I cannot tell you how many times I am asked how long should my presentation be? Or How many slides do I need? I think deep down most of us understand that the old style of PowerPoints that were jam packed with bullets on a screen is gone and that there is a new way of doing things. However, many of us are just not sure where or how to start. That is where Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule comes in.

Guy Kawasaki is an American marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist. He was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing their Macintosh computer line in 1984, and he has made the rule of 10/20/30 popular. Guy gives over 50 keynote speeches a year to audiences like Apple, Microsoft, and Nike. Needless to say, Guy is an expert in delivering high impact presentations.

Guy believes that the answer to the questions I mentioned above can be summed up in these 3 simple rules. He says it this way.

A presentation should be no more than 10 slides.
A presentation should last no more than 20 minutes.
No font on a slide should be smaller than 30 point.

In essence what Guy is introducing is the importance of keeping every presentation clean, concise, and to the point. Often times presenters make the fatal flaw of trying to fit all of their content on each slide, which leads to a cluttered mess visually. Don’t get me wrong there may be certain instances when full content is needed on a slide, especially if a deck will be delivered without a presenter. However, in most instances presenters should choose clean over cluttered when designing their next deck.

What this rule also encourages is the importance of keeping your presentation concise. When we are passionate about our content it can easily cause us to drone on sharing more than is needed to make our point. But in a culture filled with shrinking attention spans there is no easier way to lose your audience’s attention than to drone on for 45 minutes. Keeping your presentation to 20 minutes or less all but guarantees that your audience will leave hungry for more rather than ready for silence.

Kawasaki’s rule of 10/20/30 is and quick and easy measuring stick for how your presentation design and time is doing. Adopting this rule will help you clarify your message and clean up your design so that your next presentation leaves your audience wowed.

If you want help designing your next presentation reach out to the Ethos3 team at, we would love to partner with you to make your presentation great.

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