PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

One of the most common questions in a presentation skills workshop is about slide quantity.  How many slides should I use?

An often-suggested rule-of-thumb is one slide per minute.  In other words, a twenty-minute presentation should have around twenty slides.

An article I recently read legitimately complained that this rule is arbitrary.  The author made the case that so many issues come into play that you can only really answer the “how many” question with “It depends.”

I agree.  It depends.

Of course, that answer doesn’t help if you’re struggling to work out an appropriate slide count.

I have a suggestion that can at least get you started on determining the size of your slide deck.

Imagine that the only visual aid you have to work with is a flip chart.  Anything you are going to diagram or write out is going to have to be done by hand before the presentation or while you are talking.

Then ask yourself: What visuals would you draw or write out despite the hassle?  What would be worth the effort because it had the potential to help you get your message across successfully?

That small number of visuals represents what your presentation really needs and what you are most inclined to fully utilize.

How many additional visuals should you create through the ease of PowerPoint?  It depends.  But I wouldn’t go too far beyond my imaginary flip chart count.  It’s OK to add some helpful-to-have slides to your must-have slides, but after that, slide excess starts setting in.

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