Do I Have Too Many Slides?

Do I Have Too Many Slides?

This common question sounds like “How much money will I need for retirement?”

It’s not uncommon for presenters to walk into a conference room for a 20-minute briefing with 40 minutes of slides. On the other extreme, some presenters and public speakers deliver a keynote with none.

Presenters with large decks will be chastised for mind-numbing “death by PowerPoint” briefings, while speakers with no A-V support will hear feedback that they should add slides to aid retention, increase the pace, and break monotony of their one-dimensional delivery.

Confusion on this point is understandable.

So How Many Slides Do You Need?

As with many things, it depends. In my 35 years of coaching people to deliver sales and executive presentations, clients need far fewer slides than they think.

Here’s how the prep typically goes in many corporate settings. Ken starts to put together a half-hour C-suite presentation on Friday. Remembering a briefing he gave a month ago on the same topic, he digs through his master files and selects 20 slides already done. They don’t fit his new assignment exactly, but the data and graphics are relevant.

Then he grabs a few slides from another presentation made to a regional group of VPs.  Next, he creates a few new slides to make transition points between the merged slides. In other words, the slideshow compilation drives his presentation. He has the data, he reasons, so he might as well show it. After all, the research is clear, persuasive, and well displayed.

The only problem? Fitting those 67 slides into a half-hour time slot.

His solution? Hide a few as back-up. Then talk faster. And give the audience a copy of the slideshow so they can follow along and review it later if they miss something.

Disaster. On so many fronts.

Guidelines in Deciding How Many Slides You Need

Remember that some presentations need no slides at all

The length may limit the use. Physical setting or emotional climate may make slides inappropriate and impractical. For example, you wouldn’t use slides for a wedding toast, for comments from the center of high-school football field or in a building lobby, or for a 5-minute presentation around a conference table.

Create slides that ADD to your message—not slides redundant to your words

You personally are delivering your message. Consider adding a slide—the photo, data, drawing, cartoon—to reinforce, illustrate, or further explain.  Never just add a slide as your written message.

Allow time for your audience to “digest” your slides when you plan and practice your overall presentation

Far too many speakers find they run out of time before they run out of slides! That’s because they did not practice their presentation, using their slides, and allowing the time required for a real audience to “process” what’s displayed. That time will come as a big surprise on presentation day! A slide of data may take 5 minutes for your audience to digest while a funny photo may require only 2 seconds.

Forget rules-of-thumb about how many slides to use per minute

Common sense has to be your guide about slide count in any given time slot. For example, when presenting to the executive team about profit margins on 6 different product lines that include several products each, a presenter may need to show 6 slides in 6 minutes (with each chart displaying a product line and its corresponding profit margins). But that same presenter may need only one slide in 20 minutes while talking about a new competitor who has recently entered the market.

So your rule-of-thumb: Create slides with care, according to your purpose. Then forget about the count.

Learn more ways to deliver powerful presentations in Speak with Confidence!: Powerful Presentations That Inform, Inspire, and PersuadeDownload an excerpt by clicking here or on the image below.

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2018-08-15T21:39:30+00:00By |Comments Off on Do I Have Too Many Slides?

About the Author:

Dianna Booher is the bestselling author of 47 books, published in 60 foreign-language editions. She helps organizations to communicate clearly and leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. She speaks on leadership communication and executive presence. Her latest books include Communicate Like a Leader; What MORE Can I Say?; Creating Personal Presence; and Communicate With Confidence. National media such as Good Morning America, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Bloomberg, Forbes.com, Fast Company, FOX, CNN, NPR, Success, and Entrepreneur have interviewed her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues.