Sunday, March 16, 2008

Limiting Slides is Not the Answer

Recently I have heard of more and more organizations that have tried to solve the problem of poor, confusing presentations by restricting the number of slides that a presenter can use. The idea is that by using fewer slides the message will be clearer. In most cases, this is exactly opposite to the reality.

When limited by a certain number of slides, most presenters don't rethink their message and pare it down to the core, they simply jam more information on to the slide. What results is an even more cluttered slide that causes more confusion for the audience.

When you start creating persuasive visuals, you will end up with more slides, but the presentation will be much clearer because each slide is only making one key point. This allows your audience to absorb the point before moving on to the next slide.

An experience not too long ago is a good illustration. When I finished a recent three hour session, one of the participants came up and we started chatting about the number of slides. I wanted to find out how many slide she thought I had used. She gave me a number. In reality, I had used five times that number of slides! She was surprised, but agreed that because of the way the slides were designed, it did not feel like it was a ton of information being dumped on her.

When it comes to the number of slides in your presentation, the commonly used business phrase of "less is more" is often not true.


Blogger Gavin Meikle, Trainer, Speaker & Coach said...

Hi Dave
I completly agree.
The core issue is content! More slides with fewer words often works better than less slides with more words. Slides should be an aid for the audience rather than a crutch for the presenter. More images and less words serves both purposes well.

Gavin Meikle

6:22 AM  
Blogger Lisa Braithwaite said...

Great point, Dave. If slides are done right, the audience doesn't notice them passing by, and certainly not enough to keep count. The slides seamlessly integrate with the presentation and enhance the message without taking anything away or drawing attention to themselves.

1:13 PM  
Blogger NamanS said...

Hey Dave
Love your blog, and it is interesting that you raise this point. The Mechanical Engg department in my alma mater recently decided to make senior project designs a two slide maximum. According to them, students love to BS their way through slides without ever reaching the point. But just two slides sounds ridiculous!

9:19 AM  

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