Slide design tips: Number of slides

Slide design tips: How many slides?

A frequent question I get in training is: “How many slides should I put in my presentation?”

My top slide design tip: The number of slides is not nearly as important as creating a clear message that people can hear and act on. Everything in your presentation (what you see and hear) should support or illustrate your message, not be a something you read.augment your message

The main concern should be about the core message of your presentation, the audience take-away. Once this idea is clear, and you know how you want to say it, then (and only then) create your deck. The number is not as important as the following design elements:

  • A clear message running  through the presentation
  • Audeince focussed
  • Effective content that supports the message
  • Simple slides (not cluttered)
  • One congruent message/idea per slide
  • Finish within time

Critical slide design elements Infographic

So the question should be in Slide design : Do they add to my message, or are have my slides become my message?

An easy rule of thumb is one slide per 2-3 minutes, but only if they help you make your point and still comply to the “think billboard rule”.

Some presentations will have a deck of 5 for 10 minutes of talking (e.g. a process with 5 steps – 1 per step). Others, due to the complexity of the concept may have 1 slide per 10 minutes talking (e.g. financial graphs/charts with each project appearing one at a time).

Slide design tips: How many slides?

  • This pie chart could be used as an overview. A quick illustration of how the different projects add to the organisation’s health (1 slide = +/- 2 minutes of talking).
  • Alternately each pie segment could be brought in one at a time and the relevant projects discussed (1 slide= +/- 10 minutes of talking).

It is not about the number of slides, but the impact of the Slide design


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Richard Riche

Change Communication and Employee Engagement specialist at One Clear Message Consulting
Richard specialises in helping you build real human communication skills. Employee Engagement / Experience, Emotional Intelligence skills, building high performance teams and a great place you want to work. TED style speaking and presentation skills. Training, consulting and coaching.
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