Monday, June 29, 2009

Think before you add slide numbers

Today I watched two presentations where the presenter had the slide numbers feature turned on, so we saw a slide number in the lower corner of each slide. And it got me thinking, why were the slide numbers there? What did they add to the presentation?

The answer was: Nothing. The slide numbers did not help explain the ideas or help the audience understand the message. The only time I think slide numbers are useful is when you are presenting using a flipbook (where the slides are printed one per page and the presentation is done flipping through the book of slides). In this case, it can be helpful to keep everyone on track by referring to what slide number you are on.

But if you are presenting in a room with a projector, slide numbers are not necessary. If the audience has a handout, they have a copy of your slides or notes and you will refer them to a page number in the handout, not the slide number. If you don’t have a handout, the slide numbers serve no purpose to the audience.

What do you think? If you use slide numbers, what benefit do they have for your audience? Add your thoughts in the comments below.


Blogger Jill E said...

I use slide #'s all the time, mainly because I don't give a lot of paper handouts, kills too many trees. The reason I put the #'s on the slides is so thta during the presentation, my audience can make note of any slide about which they have a question. Then at the end of the presentation, we revisit that slide. I use the "type the slide number and press Enter" feature to return seamlessly to the slide.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Albertos said...

Hello Dave,
i would like to congratulate you for your good work on the subject of presentations. I am a professional speaker in Greece, and i deliver a lot of lectures and seminars.

My opinion is that slide numbers are very useful for me for a specific reason. They help me navigate my self throughout my presentations. Due to the fact that my presentations are (most of the times) non linear (dynamic), slide numbers are becoming something like a GPS system, helping me keeping a clear idea of the grouping of subjects. For example, one of the subjects that i deal with a lot is motivation. For the specific subject i answer three basic questions. The order by which i describe and answer those questions is determined by the audience. So i use action buttons in order to move around my presentation. Slide numbers are very useful because they give me the opportunity to have in mind the clusters of my presentation, e.g. question no1 slides: 12-21, question no2 slides: 33-39, and question no3 slides: 50-65.

In that way it is much easier for me to remember where each cluster starts and ends. It is also very helpful because i can have a general "map" of the presentation in a split second. The fact that slide number is a unique element on each slide, is providing a tool for creating the backbone of a presentation.

In my humble opinion, slide numbers are very helpful, mainly for the presenter and much less for the audience. Nevertheless, we should always keep in mind that whatever helps a presenter to improve his/her performance, has a very positive impact for the audience. And the audience is what a good presenter must always have in mind..!

Thank you
Azaria Albertos
Communication Consultant and Professional Trainer
MBA, PhD Candidate
BSc in Business Administration, BSc in Applied Informatics
Department of Business Administration
University of Macedonia, Greece

11:50 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

I use slide numbers when we have our case presentations ( I am Assoc Prof in a dental college) so that the students can ask for a clarification on particular procedure or finding by quoting the slide number especially if there are more than one type of case being presented

1:00 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

I think that slides numbers are also helpful to beginner students when they have a time bound presentation esp at various conferences etc and they know that they have to hurry up or can continue at the same pace
The slide numbers can be kept as unobtrusive as possible.

1:04 PM  

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