Mar 12, 2009

How many slides should your presentation have?

Last week I was working with a client of mine on improving his presentation. When I told him that the presentation might stretch to 40 slides he was anxious. He wanted it to be under 20. Both the versions had the same content but different number of slides. He knew that. Still he wanted it to be under 20.

What's happening in this case?

By having 40 slides the content per slide will get drastically reduced and that he felt meant being low on content (less text on a slide meant less work done by the manager). He wanted the presentation to be content heavy.

Friends this is a mindset issue. Still in most companies in India having more text on the slides means you have done your research and hard work.

How do we solve the problem?
It wont be solved bottoms-up (by changing the mindset of the lower level managers). It has to be solved top-down. When managers see their top bosses reducing content per slide they will follow suit.

So my answer to the question is:

There is no correct number of slides.
Just make sure you have the right content, you talk one thing per slide and you finish your presentation in the allotted time.

Do not try to say 2/3 things in a slide. Do not worry about how many slides your PowerPoint runs into. If you are skilled at using PowerPoint, you can present the matter of 10 slides in 1 using animation. If your presentation has a lot of images, then you can really run through them in no time. So how does it matter how many slides your presentation has? All that matters is whether you finish within your allotted time and get your point across.

What is your take on this? Are you also advised to stick to a certain no. of slides? Leave a comment and let me know.


  1. Hi Vivek,
    Great post. About time someone started talking about how many slides are the correct number. Your advice is bang on. Just do it right, get the message across and finish on time.

    I once had to prepare a presentation for a conference. I was showcasing a new technology for an environmental company. Since the technology was new, I wanted to demonstrate how the flow of water progressed through the piping.

    I spent much time making dozens of slides to animate this idea. My 20 minute presentation ended up with over 82 slides. Sixty-eight of them automatically transitioned at such a speed that it actually looked like water was flowing through the pipes. Those 68 slides took about 25 seconds to finish.

    When I submitted the presentation, I had a battle on my hands. The organizers continually hounded me stating that there was no way I was going to present 82 slides in 20 minutes and they demanded that I revise my presentation.

    After dozens of e-mails and several days later, and a call from the head of the organization committee, I finally convinced them to open up the presentation in "show" mode.

    About 30 minutes later I received an e-mail from the organization committee stating that my presentation had been now accepted in its present form and that they were looking forward to seeing it live.

    I agree with you Vivek. Just get your message across clearly, concisely and effectively within the time limits allowed. The number of slides is not that important.

    Looking forward to your next post.

  2. Hi M.J.

    I completely understand what you would have gone through while convincing the organizers. All I can say is, these fights will go on for some more time, till people understand that the message is more important than the number of slides

    I too made a similar presentation last week. 80 slides fully automated. Thankfully my client was very understanding and accepted it happily :)

  3. Thank u for the help!!! The information is really helpful.