The 10/20/30 Rule of Presentation Design


The former chief evangelist for Apple, Guy Kawasaki was charged with converting users to Apple products. This was not an easy task before iPhones were invented.  Now with 42% of the smartphone market share, I think we can all agree that Apple has an astounding conversion rate. What makes Guy such an amazing evangelist? In one word…emotion. Guy positions his products as a cause, making users feel that they need to have them. In his own words, “A product or service, no matter how great, is a collection of parts or snippets of code. A ‘cause’,  by contrast, changes lives. It’s not enough to make a great product or service—you also need to position it and explain it as a way to improve lives.”

As a master communicator, Guy has a lot to say on the topic of presentation design. In 2005, he introduced the 10/20/30 rule. The rule advises to use less slides, less words, and less copy. Today, it is an industry standard for content gurus who strive to make a lasting impression through the power of presentation design. In using less, presenters are forced to understand their key points more and to communicate them better.

Only use 10 slides. The following topics should be covered:

  1. Problem

  2. Solution

  3. Business Model

  4. Underlying magic/technology

  5. Marketing and sales

  6. Competition

  7. Team

  8. Projections and milestones

  9. Status and timeline

  10. Summary and call to action

Streamline your presentation to 20 minutes. This allows time for late arrivals, technology glitches, and ample questions from the audience.

Stick to a 30-point font. Using a font that is no smaller than 30 points forces the reader to whittle their content down to the most important points.

To learn more about Guy’s theories on presentation design, visit his blog here.

While the 10/20/30 rule was originally created for sales pitches, the underlying philosophy of less is more can be applied to any presentation. Sheryl Sandberg grabbed her audience’s attention at a TED talk earlier this year with a presentation comprised only of images. This approach created an atmosphere of a conversation rather than presentation, which engaged her audience. There’s no doubt about it, images are powerful. They gain attention, provide context, and reduce the time and copy necessary to illustrate a point.

So when you sit down to create your next presentation, keep in mind that less is more. And if you need some help, give Creative MediaWorks a call. We’ve been designing and formatting presentations for the healthcare community since 1989 – before PowerPoint was even invented. We have a team of experienced professionals who truly understand the art of creating and supporting effective presentations. Call us today at (800) 737-1123 or email us at to speak with our Creative Services manager about your next Keynote or PowerPoint presentation.