The 10-20-30 Rule for Keynote Presentations for Ad Agency New Business

Clarity, brevity and connectivity are key for winning presentations.

During my advertising career I’ve been part of and a witness to hundreds of agency presentations using PowerPoint or Keynote. I’ve seen many new business opportunities wasted because agencies couldn’t get their point across, tried to include too much within their allotted time or had absolutely no chemistry with their audience.

Guy Kawasaki, well-known blogger, author, managing director of a venture capital firm and an Apple Fellow, promotes a technique  that can help small to midsize agencies with their Keynote presentations, the 10-20-30 Rule:

  • No more than 10 slides
  • No more than 20 minutes
  • No font smaller than 30 points

10 Slides

Guy’s premise, “a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting … If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business.”

Your audience doesn’t need all of the details so don’t give them the minutia. Decide in advance what are the two or three main thoughts you want your audience to takeaway from your presentation.

20 Minutes

Guys’ thinking, there are always going to be delays, interruptions to your speaking time … “In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.” 

Recently visiting Washington, DC, I toured the Lincoln Memorial. Etched in its South wall, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a mere 269 words in length. Wisdom is found in simplicity.

Brevity can also be a main point of differentiation. Just be more concise than your competitors and your presentation will stand out.

“The brain can absorb only what the rear end can endure.” ~Mark Twain. This is even truer in our Twitter driven world so keep brevity in mind. Work hard at being brief and look for ways to make omissions not additions.

30 Font

Guy states, “the reason people use a small font is twofold: first, that they don’t know their material well enough; second, they think that more text is more convincing.”

Know your material: Steve Jobs spends hours rehearsing every facet of his presentations. Every every presentation staged like a theatrical experience. He makes a presentation look effortless but that polish comes after hours of arduous practice.

Be convincing: You should be like an actor on stage and own the room.  Having prepared thoroughly you should be confident, at ease and able to speak with conviction.

Guy Kawasaki shares his mini set of presentation rules in this brief video:

Additional articles that may be of interest:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


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