How many slides should your presentation have?
Many PowerPoint myths exist. One of the worst is to restrict your slide count. 10 is often bandied about as a key number. Unless you’re pitching for investment, then ignore that number 10.
Trying to reduce your slide count only leads to those fewer slides getting crammed with too much content. So stop trying to reduce your slide count! It’s not the right thing to focus on.
Reducing the number of slides is simply a theory that’s been churned out by well-meaning people over and over again, until it’s somehow become “PowerPoint law” that about 10 slides is plenty. But there’s no basis for this, and in fact, many scientific studies show this to be untrue. Research findings advise that we keep content on slides to a minimum – ideally one point per slide. This may mean that your 10 slides quickly becomes 30 or more, which may get some of you in a bit of a tizz… “…but my audience won’t want to see 30 slides!!!”
Don’t worry about the numbers. From an engagement point of view your audience would rather see 30 light slides that you move through quickly (keeping things more interesting for them), than 10 slides that are chock full of data and that don’t seem to ever move on…
If you have an hour – 10 slides means spending 6 minutes on each slide. Try it. It’s quite a long time to look at one slide. Or more to the point, depending on the slide, it’s going to get visually boring after 1 minute (or less)… so you’d potentially be giving out 54 minutes of boredom!*
(*We don’t actually mean YOU, I mean YOU have more charisma than average and there won’t be THAT much boredom… we’re just making a mathematical point here!)
So what is the ideal number of slides?
From a science point of view, spreading your message over more slides is proven to be a more effective way of presenting to an audience.
Next time you see a good presentation, find out how many slides were there – visual slides are understood quickly, and you may be surprised that a presentation you enjoyed actually had well over 50 slides. It won’t feel like it. When those slides are light in content, visual, and informative, it will feel like a lot less! How many slides you present is fundamentally down to what is on those slides!
Keep an eye out for more blog posts with advice on presenting better, like these presenting tips.