Sooner or later every PowerPoint specialist is asked the same question: “How many slides do I need for my presentation?” The answer to the question is: It depends. And there’s a corollary: When it comes to PowerPoint slides, “more” does not equal “better.”
Some presenters believe that a barrage of slides clicked through at rapid fire makes a presentation seem dynamic and will make listeners take notice. In fact, using too many slides has precisely the opposite effect; it confuses the audience. It also leaves them asking questions, such as:
Q: What does that mean?
Audiences need time to process information. When the information is coming from two sources at once—a speaker and a PowerPoint slide—an audience requires even more time to absorb and synthesize what’s being presented. To the presenter, the material in the presentation is familiar, but to the audience it might be brand new, given the chance they might even find it fresh and exciting.
Allow them time to take it all in.
Q: What did I miss? Click. Here’s the information. Click. Now it’s gone. If the audience feels as if they missed a point in a presentation, their attention becomes focused on figuring out what that point was. They’re not paying attention to what you’re saying right now. They might not pay attention to what you’re going to say a moment from now. They’re completely captivated by the mystery of what you said a moment ago. A lost bit of data should not become the most memorable part of a presentation.
It’s simple human nature; no one wants to feel left behind.
Q: When will it stop? At a certain point in an overloaded presentation the audience will simply tune out and wait for the onslaught to finish. But by commanding their attention and building their interest with well-crafted slides shown at a reasonable pace, the audience will follow you enthusiastically all the way to the conclusion.
If it’s a good story told well, every listener wants to know how it ends.
How many slides do you need for a PowerPoint presentation? It depends. Every presentation is unique. Every audience is unique. Every slide is unique. The number of slides isn’t as important as the quality of the slides and the information they convey. No question about that.