The 10:20:30 Formula: cliché or forever classic? Part II


In the previous part, we talked about Guy Kawasaki’s invention of the 10:20:30 presentation formula, where 10 is the maximum number of slides you should aim for in your presentation, 20 minutes if the maximum duration and 30 is the minimum font size for slides. It was a revolutionary approach then, but is this a relevant approach today?

Practically every person who begins to familiarize themself with the art of presentation, especially if working with PowerPoint, is recommended to use Kawasaki’s rules as something taken for granted. Regardless of what the presentation is actually about. 

The formula has firmly taken its place not only in business but also in education, public life, social advertising, and politics – in almost all areas where you need to promote ideas, conduct campaigns and convey information to the audience.

However, statistics say that these days the 10:20:30 formula can hardly be called a universal tool. According to surveys, viewers of online presentations start to get distracted much earlier than 20 minutes. 

In the Forbes article published in 2014, listeners’ attention spans drop to zero before 10 minutes are up. Visme states that 4 out of 5 business professionals admit to being distracted during the last presentation they watched. Storydoc cites the most radical figures – the average duration of studying presentations is 4.24 minutes for desktops and 3.41 minutes for mobile devices.

But even without references, it’s clear that these days it’s almost impossible to win the attention of an online viewer for 20 minutes straight without having the talents and capabilities of Cameron or Spielberg. If the viewer doesn’t distract themselves, they will be distracted – by a call, text, or email.

Guy Kawasaki and rulers with 10-20-30 points referring to his presentation's formu;a

Does this mean that Kawasaki’s rules are inherently flawed? Of course not. But you have to remember that in the years they were being put together, most presentations were offline. And even at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, when the 10:20:30 formula became the canon of presentation, many business meetings were held face-to-face. Since then, the pace of life has increased manifold. And with it, the volume of information pouring at people daily.

Kawasaki’s rules are not suitable for solving many problems faced by today’s presenters. But only because it was created at a time when many modern realities did not exist. From this point of view, it is indeed outdated. However, the ideology embedded in it is still relevant. 

The purpose of a good business presentation is not to tell everything but to interest and cause a desire to learn more: a maximum of basic information should be set out using a minimum of time and words.

So, if your task is to create an online presentation with commercial purposes – the formula 10:20:30 is better to put aside. Focus on the duration of 3-10 minutes, bet on interactivity, video, animation, and active use of chat rooms. Remember that you must allow the potential client to get acquainted with the presentation when it is convenient for them and connect to it exactly when they decide to watch it.

However, that doesn’t mean the 10:20:30 formula’s place is in a hypothetical presentation museum. For example, it is still more than relevant to educators. Considering that a traditional academic hour lasts 40-45 minutes, it can be used to present new material, leaving enough time to communicate with students and answer questions.

Its potential is still high for situations where the viewer is initially interested in studying the presentation as closely as possible. For example, when conveying information to employees within a company. And, of course, it is still relevant for offline meetings.

Either way, it’s worth learning Kawasaki’s rules and how to create presentations using the 10:20:30 formula confidently. Doing this gives you a handy reference point from which to build your formulas and online presentation options. So, embrace the wisdom of Kawasaki, adapt it to the demands of the digital era, and let your presentations captivate audiences in their unique way.

May luck be on your side as you deliver awe-inspiring presentations!


Source ROI4Presenter Blog

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