Debunking the number of slides myth

We’d like to dispel the myth about how many slides you should (or shouldn’t) have in your presentation.

In our conversations with clients, we often discuss how they create, work with, and value presentations in their organisation. What we’ve noticed is that there’s a strange misunderstanding about the number of slides that should be in a presentation.

“You shouldn’t have any more than 20 slides!” said some rule-making nitwit who never delivered a presentation in their life.  

Several people we spoke to recently – all from very different businesses and sectors – seemed to have a lockdown on the number of slides they were allowed to use in their business.

This is madness!

When showing us their latest presentations, each of those people had what can only be described as an exercise in how to create cognitive overload for your audience. Every slide was packed with information, imagery, and the dreaded bullet points.

All people achieve through this approach is less information retention by your audience and terrible looking slides.

Is there a magic number?

No, there isn’t one.

The truth is there is no concrete rule or formula we can use to determine how many slides a presentation should have, but here are the guidelines that we follow as presentation designers. You can try them too! 

Let content breathe

If you have a PowerPoint slide with 6 bullet points on it, and each point is equally as important as the other, then separate them into 6 individual slides. This will allow your audience (and it’s always about the audience) to fully understand each point, and remember what they’ve seen.

Sometimes we receive PowerPoint decks that need redesigning and have 60 slides. After our design team goes to work on them, the final deck could be 80-100 slides long.

Don’t worry, PowerPoint isn’t going to blow up if you add too many slides.

There is no concrete rule or formula on how many slides a presentation should have.

Keep it moving

We usually advise people to change the visuals on the screen every 30 seconds. Therefore, a 20 minute presentation should have 40 or more slides.

By doing this, you keep people engaged and, if you’re good at design, you can use contrast and impactful imagery to keep grabbing their attention every time you move to a new slide.

Ditch the number of slides rule

So, if your business has this strange rule in place, please let us know and we can give everyone there a demonstration of what good presentations really look like.

If you have an old sales presentation or internal deck that needs to be brought back from the scrap heap, get in touch for a free consultation with a member of our team. 

For more advanced tips on PowerPoint, you can join our upcoming training  with our Company founder and presentation expert Russell.Anderson-Williams. We are also running a series of webinars on visual storytelling in the coming months.