top of page

The 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint – How it Can Make (or Break) Your Best Marketing Presentations

10-20-30 Rule

If you’ve done any research on creating effective marketing presentations, you’ve probably seen some basic strategies for timing, slide design, and overall flow. These tools, like the 7X7 rule (which recommends no more than 7 lines of text on a slide with 7 words per line), are great for helping to ensure your presentation stays focused and your audience stays engaged.

You may also have heard of the 10-20-30 rule. Created by former Apple brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki, the 10-20-30 rule states that a PowerPoint presentation should have no more than 10 slides, never last longer than 20 minutes, and should use a minimum point size of 30 for the font.

At VerdanaBold, we’ve always said that content drives design. That means that the best marketing presentations need to be designed around the unique content and audience for that presentation. But as much as we believe in a content-first approach, we’ve found that the 10-20-30 rule is one of the most effective ways for novice PowerPoint designers to craft a marketing presentation template that delivers strong presentations without a lot of fuss.

Here are a few of the benefits of applying the 10-20-30 rule to your marketing presentation template.

1. It covers multiple aspects of a presentation

Perhaps the most important aspect of the 10-20-30 rule is how it covers all the key things you need to make an effective marketing presentation. We’ve long stressed that great design is just one aspect of presentations, and that the best ones also consider the audience and narrative. By using the 10-20-30 rule, you’ll have cleaner, more readable slides, but it will also help you keep the audience interested and make sure that you are focused on the most important messages that each slide needs.

2. It’s backed by science

It will come as no surprise that If your audience stops paying attention, your presentation is doomed. In formulating the 10-20-30 rule, Kawasaki notes the psychology of audiences and their attention span[1] , stating that the average human can not hold and absorb more than 10 pieces of information at a time. We’ve long said that the best marketing presentations should focus on one key idea per slide, and using the 10-20-30 rule is a great way to make sure each key message is heard.

3. It’s about more than just the presentation itself

The “20” in 10-20-30 says that effective marketing presentations keep to a max of 20 minutes, even if you’re given an entire hour! While this sounds radical at first, the idea is that you can leave the other 40 minutes for a discussion, fostering a relationship with your audience and creating better engagement and retention through discussion. If you’re pitching an idea and you’re one of multiple presentations your audience has to sit through, a tight 20 minute presentation can make you stand out among your competition.

As with any general rule, the 10-20-30 approach to presentations is only a guideline to help you put your presentation together. And more importantly, rigidly following a rule may lead you to missed opportunities or simply creating the wrong presentation for the audience and situation.

For example, 10 slides is a nice goal to work towards, but there are many different kinds of marketing presentation templates, and even in the face of scientific evidence, we are often tasked with creating decks that need to convey more than 10 ideas.

Many situations like RFPs require detailed responses, and trying to condense your proposal into 20 minutes could result in glossing over important details, resulting in a presentation that seems thin and makes you look underprepared. This can be exacerbated if the deck is also meant to function as a leave-behind document where certain key stakeholders may not be able to review your content until after the pitch is over.

Similarly, 30 point fonts are an excellent place to start if you’re following this format and depth of detail isn’t essential, but many PowerPoints need to function as both presentation tools and leave behinds for reference. You need to consider every application of your presentation, rather than adhering to rules in every case.

We’ve found the 10-20-30 rule to be a very effective way for novice PowerPoint users who want to create effective marketing presentations but aren’t sure where to begin. One tip is to start by taking an existing presentation, applying these rules and seeing what changes. As you start to see how this streamlined approach to presenting changes your marketing presentation templates, you’ll learn what works for your presentation style and for your audience.

We believe that the best marketing presentations are always made with the specific ask and audience in mind, but these nearly-universal ideas can serve as a great starting point for almost any presentation.

Looking for expert guidance on creating your next marketing presentation?

Contact us to learn how we can help with presentation design, writing, and training that will help you create PowerPoints that win business.

Let VerdanaBold help you present like a pro



PowerPoint tips and tricks, new presentation design ideas, and other bold ideas, delivered directly to your inbox.

bottom of page