Posted by: kenwbudd | February 26, 2009

The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint

For the benefit of all of us, I am writing here to propose the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple:

  • a PowerPoint presentation should have 10 (ten) slides,
  • last no more than 20 (twenty) minutes, and
  • contain no font smaller than 30 (thirty) points.

This rule is applicable for any presentation, in any business and can be used to reach amicable agreement: raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.

10 (ten) – This is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting. If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business. The ten topics that should be considered are as follows; (because these are the ones that most people care)

  1. Define the Problem
  2. Outline Your solution
  3. Establish the Business model
  4. Disclose Underlying magic/technology
  5. Remember the Marketing and sales
  6. There is always Competition
  7. You need a good Team
  8. Forecast Projections and milestones
  9. Reporting Status and following a timeline
  10. Finish on a Summary and call to action

20 (twenty) – You should present your ten slides in twenty minutes. Given you have an hour time slot, but if you’re using a Windows laptop, it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Once you are setup, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes and you have forty minutes left for Q&A, discussion and networking.

30 (thirty) – 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 stands and reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, they read ahead of you because they can read faster than you can speak. The result is that you and the audience are out of synch with you and you lose the impact of your message delivery.

The reason people use a small font is twofold:

1) they don’t know their material well enough

2) they think that more text is more convincing.

This is the totally wrong approach. Be disciplined, force yourself to use a large font, no smaller than thirty points. It will make your presentations better because it requires you to find the real essence of your presentation. Use the most salient points and know how to explain and expand upon them.

Another possible algorithm; find out the age of the oldest person in your audience and divide it by two. Make that your optimal font size.

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