Hands up if you’ve ever had to sit through a bad PowerPoint presentation? By bad I mean:

  • It didn’t engage you
  • The purpose of it confused you
  • You read the slides rather than listened to the speaker
  • The speaker sounded like he was reading the slides
  • You couldn’t describe what the presentation was about in 2 or 3 sentences

These poor attempts at presentations are usually the result of trying to cram too much content in because your scared of missing something out and you haven’t learnt the notes.

The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint helps address this problem by simplifying things.

The rules are:

  • Ten slides
  • Twenty minutes
  • No font smaller than thirty points.


Ten slides
Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because the majority of people won’t take in more than ten new concepts in a one sitting.

Your ten topics should mirror the top ten things that your audience care’s about. To give you an example, here are ten example topics that a venture capitalist might care about.

  1. Problem
  2. Your 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 next steps

Twenty minutes
You should deliver your ten slides in twenty minutes. Try and give yourself at least an hour timeslot for the whole pitch. That should give you time to set up the laptop, 20 minutes for the presentation and time at the end for questions.

Thirty points
A lot of PowerPoint presentations contain too much text in a small font size and the presenter just reads it out. As soon as the audience figures this out, they start to read it themselves because they can read it faster than you can speak it.

The result? You and your audience are on different pages, you’re out of sync and you might as well not be there.

Use a font size of no less than 30pts. If you think you need to reduce this then you have too much text. What do you do with this text? You learn it and practice delivering it confidently and concisely. The rest you store in memory for the questions at the end. If there are no questions at the end, chances are your audience has given up trying to register all that new info and just want to get out of there.

Sticking to this rule will be difficult to start with because it means reducing the amount of text on screen and puts the pressure on you to deliver only the salient points. By doing this you should stir enough interest in the audience that some will use the question time at the end to drill down to the nitty gritty details.

Remember, you are the star of the show, not the PowerPoint so practise practise practise!