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How Many Slides For My Presentation?

One of the most commonly asked questions that I get asked and there really is no simple answer is “How many slides for my presentation?”. Each presentation has its own purpose, audience and content. There are times that I personally do not use slides at all and sometimes recommend this to my clients especially with smaller audiences even if a full deck has been prepared.

The rules

I am sure that at some stage you have heard all the rules around presentations including how many slides should you have in your presentation. One of the most common rules is that you should have a slide every 2 minutes meaning that for a 30min presentation the deck would consist of 15slides. This rule in itself adds constraint (which isn’t always bad) for the presenter. This type of constraint however, may force the presenter to create a presentation deck that may not necessarily compliment the talk.

Less is best

One of the concepts of slide design is that less is best. This can often mislead presenters into believing that this means the number of slides in the presentation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The concept of “less is best” is having minimal elements on each slide to help to get the point across along with the verbal presentation. This fact alone could potentially mean that your presentation deck could contain more slides.

Let me explain this further using simple slides.

Below is a fairly typical slide with a main heading along with 5 related points. Of course this is one slide in the deck.

Presentations_how_many_slides

Let’s go ahead and take all the points on the one slide separating each point so that the audience now has less to concentrate on and make the information presented more easily retained…

Now including the title slide we have 6 slides related to the main point. Even though we now have more slides in the deck each one only contains 1 point with less elements on the slide making the information more easily digestible for the audience.

What is your experience?

Another consideration that should be considered is your experience in delivering presentations with slides. I will often advise new presenters to just have 1 slide for each main point. This would mean that if there are 3 main points to the presentation then the slide deck could consist of:

  1. The title slide
  2. Point 1
  3. Point 2
  4. Point 3
  5. Concluding slide

The slide deck could then be built out as the presenter becomes more comfortable delivering presentations seamlessly complimented by the slides.

There are no rules

So the answer to the question “How many slides should I have in my presentation?” is that there really is no definitive answer. Each presentation is different with a combination of factors. There are times that it would be better to use no slides and instead opting to just use a whiteboard or flip chart.

There really are no rules except that no matter how many slides are in the presentation deck they must be relevant to what you are speaking about, more easily comprehended at a glance with the least amount of elements on each slide as possible. So now the question should change to “How can I make my slides more effective to help the audience understand and remember my message?” rather than restraining yourself to the number of slides in the presentation deck.

The information for the example slides is from the Clean Up Australia website. 

 Image Credits:

Oiled bird: Igor GOLUBENKOV via Flickr

Waterfall: Drimascus via Wikimedia

Plastic bottles: Ted Mathys via Flickr

Albatross: Chris Jordan via Wikipedia

Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen

Founder of Impact Presentations

Richard is a professional MC, presentation designer and coach and founder of Impact Presentations.

He is happily married with 3 children and currently lives on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Queensland, Australia.

Loves trekking, camping, coffee and generally hanging out with friends and trying new experiences.

Richard’s personal website can be viewed here……