2-Minute Tip: Slides are not Time
How many slides should be in a 15-minute presentation?
How long is a 10-slide presentation?
I don’t know because the number of slides is a poor proxy for presentation length. I would rather see a presenter add more slides than to use a small font. Splitting one slide into multiple slides doesn’t lengthen your presentation. It just makes content more legible. Conversely, replacing 10 text heavy slides with 3 graphic slides doesn’t shorten your presentation.
Let the content drive the number of slides in a deck — not the clock.
Post Tip Discussion: Talk Less, Say More
My apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda. His Aaron Burr gave the advice to, “Talk Less. Smile more,” to make it easier to get along with everyone, avoid getting arrested by the British, and minimize political enemies. It didn’t work out so well for him in Hamilton.
Instead, I suggest you talk less and say more.
Silence and repetition can be powerful tools as we saw in Emma Gonzalez’s recent speech following the murder spree in a Florida high school.
As speakers, we may be tempted to throw as much stuff in a presentation as possible, and that’s the wrong instinct. Volume of points won’t help us achieve our goals; clarity will. When we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing. When everything is the top priority, nothing is a priority.
Overwhelming our audience with facts, features, details, charts, slides, etc. doesn’t drive our call to action. It doesn’t support the point we want to make. Instead, it leaves our audience distracted and confused. They are more likely to forget stuff that we said because we obscured the important stuff with trivia. And that just wastes everyone’s time.
To address the issue, go back to basics. Start your presentation prep by asking:
- Why will I conduct this presentation?
- What’s the point?
- Why should the audience care?
- What do I want them to do?
- Why ought they do that?
Start with those questions and write down your answers. When you review your content, ask if it supports the goals outlined in those questions. If a point does not move you towards your goal, cut it. It’s a distraction, and we all have enough of those these days.
Call To Action:
- Review an upcoming talk. Can you cut 25% of the material without detracting from your main point? If so, cut it.
- Do you have any experience of how cutting something make a talk more effective? Have you talked less and said more? Tell us your story in the comments below.
- Do you know someone who may benefit from this episode? Share it with them, and help them subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips in their favorite podcast app.
- Don’t equate the number of slides with the number of minutes in a presentation.
- Don’t get best…get better.