Article Category: Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule for PowerPoint

On Fridays, we dip into the article archive and emerge with one of the most memorable articles. We’ll dust it off, shine a light on it, and consider it from a new perspective.

Today’s Flashback Article

This week, we’re headed back to June 2010, when we dissected Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule, describing why the rule is both wonderful and terrible at the same time:

  • 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.

In the years that have passed, I continue to mention the 10-20-30 rule in my presentation skills courses. On the whole, I’d have to say that most people generally like the rule even if they don’t rigorously follow it. Of particular interest is the implied constraint of 1 slide for each 2 minutes of time.

Read the article, and let me know whether you agree:


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Comments icon5 Comments

  1. Sims Wyeth says:

    10-20-30 is a very appealing model for a VC pitch.
    However, those of us in the business of developing presentations in the business world know that the model is not a panacea.
    For instance, when you are invited to deliver a keynote; when you are presenting your yearly business plan to the board; when you are presenting a new drug to regulatory authorities. When you are invited to deliver a TED talk.
    Suffice it to say that every presentation forum is a lock that requires a different key.
    Guy’s got his grip on the VC world–and it’s a good grip–but it’s not a format for all situations.
    Sims Wyeth

    1. Andrew Dlugan says:

      I agree. In the full article, my first critique is that “every situation is unique”.

  2. Andrew:
    I disagree about the implied constraint of 0.5 slides per minute. Pecha Kucha uses 3 per minute, and Ignite uses 4 (or eight times the Kawasaki rate). so, the 0.5 is just an estimate to the nearest power of ten (not quite 5 rather than 0.5).
    Alex Rister had a 2012 guest post about Ignite:

    1. Andrew Dlugan says:

      Sure, Ignite and Pecha Kucha have faster rates, but those are specialized talks that are not really a comparable for “the normal, everyday PowerPoint presentation” which people who take my course generally encounter. In those settings, the 1 slide for every two minutes is a better guideline. But, of course, it’s not a rule that can be blindly followed. Every situation is unique.

  3. Fred Miller says:


    A lot has changed since Guy wrote that “Rule.”

    Technology has advanced and people’s attention span has lessened.

    More speakers are using more than one image every two minutes and putting no text on the screen, but providing the “text” with their voice.

    Using a remote control to “blank” the screen brings the audience’s attention to the speaker, where it should be because: NonVerbal Communication trumps Verbal Communication.

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