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August 27, 2023

Implementing The 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint

If you’re not used to making a PowerPoint presentation, it can be tough to know how long to make it and how to format the slides. On the other side of the coin: you might overthink your presentation and put too much information on too many slides.

A top down view of someone using a laptop to prepare a PowerPoint presentation.

With help from the 10-20-30 rule, you can make a PowerPoint presentation that’s engaging and efficient. The guidelines for this rule are as follows:

  • No more than 10 slides.
  • No longer than 20 minutes.
  • No larger than 30-point font.

Let’s look deeper at the 10-20-30 PowerPoint rule, why it’s a good rule to follow and things to do to follow this guideline.

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Don’t use more than 10 slides. A good presenter shouldn’t have to (or want to) lean heavily on their PowerPoint slides. The slides should be a supplement for your presentation, not the headliner. Limiting to 10 slides will ensure that you’re not going over the top with the length of your presentation and keeps it moving. Your slide count should include both your title and conclusion. A presentation that goes on any longer than 10 slides will distract from what you’re saying and starts to feel like an information overload.

“Whether you’re a college student presenting a class project or a teen making the case for a new car, following these guidelines will help.”

Keep your presentation 20 minutes MAX. During a presentation, people start tuning out after about 10 minutes.Limiting your presentation to this length will ensure that your audience will remember much of what you’re saying. If you’re covering a more complex topic and need more time, stick to the 20-minute MAX rule—it’s much easier to schedule your presentation by timing each slide down to about two minutes. That feels like a much more manageable timeframe, doesn’t it?

Don’t use fonts smaller than size 30. A 30-point font is a great minimum size because it ensures that your text is easy to read from a distance. The recommended guideline to make your presentation accessible to those who might be visually impaired is a 24-point font. Upping the size to 30 is a significant difference, and you can be confident that your audience can see what you’ve written. In addition, choose a font that’s easy to read. For years it was recommended that you stick solely to sans-serif fonts with digital media because serifs could blur together, making certain fonts hard to read. High-resolution screens have nearly eliminated this problem, so some serif fonts can be used and are easy to read in PowerPoint presentations.

A person researching and taking notes from a laptop as they prepare a PowerPoint presentation.

Tips for sticking to these guidelines. It’s not always easy to cut down your presentation to fit the 30-20-10 rule if you’re presenting a lot of information. Follow these tips while putting together your presentation to make the entire process easier on yourself:

  • Limit text to the 6×6 rule. It can feel like there are a lot of rules for making a PowerPoint presentation, but they’re all there to help you make a well-organized and engaging presentation. The 6×6 rule suggests that you don’t use more than six lines or bullet points on each slide and limit each line or bullet point to six words. Following the 6×6 rule helps to ensure that you’re limiting the amount of information on your slides so you can continue to present it rather than have your audience read it.
  • Use visuals instead. Visuals like graphics, animated gifs, and videos can help to keep your audience engaged. Including visuals with your presentation will also help you limit the amount of time and content on each slide. A graph or illustration on the right side of your slide limits the amount of space you have on the left side. This can help to minimize the amount of text you have.
  • Practice makes perfect. There’s a very cool, free tool called PowerPoint Speaker Coach, which leverages AI to help you nail your presentation. Speaker coach gives you feedback on your pace, pitch, use of filler words, poor grammar, lack of originality, use of sensitive phrases, and more as you rehearse your presentation. You’ll get a Summary Report at the end—with key pieces of feedback to help you become a confident presenter.

Use the 10-20-30 PowerPoint rule and these other tips to keep your presentation simple. Whether you’re a college student presenting a class project or a teen making the case for a new car, following these guidelines will help.

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