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Wow audiences with Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 slideshow rule

Posted on May 7th, 2018 in Engaging Experiences, Presenting at Conferences

Although some people make public speaking look easy, a lot of us struggle to have that same wow factor.

There are many reasons a talk might fall flat, but one of the most common causes is that the slideshow has problems. As the backbone of a presentation, this has the ability to spin out and undo any good work in voice projection, stage presence and providing valuable information.

Guy Kawasaki, one of the marketing minds behind the Apple Mac, has an easy-to-follow rule to make slideshows more effective. According to his 10/20/30 rule, a presentation should have:

  • 10 slides
  • Last no more than 20 minutes
  • Contain no font smaller than 30 points.

Too many slides

One of the main problems is that presentations simply go on too long. The main cause of this is having too many slides – it’s hard to be succinct when you have 50 slides to get through.

Cutting long presentations down to 10 slides can be a challenge, but by doing this, you trim off the fat and drill into the most important aspects of your talk. As an expert in your field, you could likely talk for days on end about your passion, but that’s not what your audience wants. By cutting down to the key points, it means you can give a talk with no filler.

Keeping a presentation to 10 slides also cuts down on the awkward parts when you see a speaker skip over some slides, realising too late that they’re not that important.

Too long on stage

Just because you’ve cut your presentation down to 10 slides, that doesn’t mean that you’ve cut down the length of your talk. Using these slides as the basis for your talk, you have an average of 2 minutes per slide. Being concise makes it easy for your audience to pay attention to everything you say.

Regardless of how long your time slot is, you should aim to stick to 20 minutes. Worst case scenario, you give your audience more time to ask questions. If there’s anything they want you to go into more detail about – or anything they feel you haven’t talked about at all that you should have – they can ask you about those things now.

If they don’t ask about those things, then you were probably right to cut them out.

Too small fonts

You may feel that you can sneak around the 10-slide rule by putting small font on there, but by limiting yourself to 30+ font size you have to be very selective with what you include.

This rule also helps with your presentation. One of the worst presenting styles is simply to read your slides. This gives a very robotic performance and lots of your audience will simply read your slides and impatiently wait for you to hurry up and finish.

Large text means bullet points which means you have to explain, in your own words, what’s on your slides. This may mean that you need to put more work into finessing your ideas so you can explain them more clearly, but this is just another way that your presentation will improve.

The benefits of the 10/20/30 rule

This 10/20/30 rule is very simple, which is what makes it so effective. It stops you including too much information, it stops you waffling on and it stops you losing your audience. It also makes sure you cut down your presentation to the most important parts, which is the content that those listening to you want you to focus on.

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