What is the optimum number of slides in a presentation?

Whats the optimum number of minutes per slide and words per slide for a presentation? @ffolliet I’ve always used 1 min/slide and 4-6 x 4-6.

— David Warriner (@doctordiscodave) December 11, 2015


None. No slides. So no words.

There is no requirement for any slides in a presentation. And the best slide in the world is blank.  Many folk recall the best presentation they attended as “when the AV system failed.” The reality of that is probably that the presenter engaged more effectively and directly with the audience rather than concentrate on their slides and without a rigid structure would be more free to express themselves rather than repeat themselves. Slides, as I refer to them are part of p2, the supportive media. They are there to add to the presentation.

So, should a presentation have any slides? Probably, but only if they add to the p1 in its delivery p3. There is no requirement  to have images, diagrams or text (!) displayed to deliver an effective presentation but if there is something that would increase the value of the presentation then it is entirely reasonable to have some supportive media. I was privileged to deliver a talk at TEDx Stuttgart two years ago and once my p1 was constructed and I considered my p2, there was little that I felt i needed to have that would make the p1 any better. I did add some images but also, if you watch the presentation, I had visual aids. The p2 is supportive to the p1, should be additive rather than subtract and certainly not distract. In retrospect I should have controlled the balloon issue a bit better.



The slideset of most presenters, as discussed in numerous posts, supports many roles that are not germane to the specific task of adding to the story. They actually detract from the p cubed value. These can be split according to speaker helps and audience “helps”. Neither is appropriate.

Use of slides as script for the speaker is entirely unacceptable. Use of slides as prompts is reasonable as long as this itself is minimal and not distracting. It also limits expression. Slides intended to distract the audience‘s attention from the speaker are intrinsically wrong. The nervousness of a speaker is better countered by engaging with the audience that attempting to constantly hide.

Designing slides for the audience to read (if bored) is entirely unacceptable. A document is to be read, a presentation is to be delivered. Signposting is unnecessary and educationally patronising. Spoken signposts are adequate for the vast majority and often this is used as an excuse by more nervous presenters. The audience will stay with you; you are their guide. They do not need to undertake the journey on their own.

How many is too many slides? I have covered this in other posts. One needs to be careful that the presentation doesn’t turn into a slideshow with attempts to illustrate every single point. Consider the difference between an illustrated book and a comic. The purpose is to support the delivery not distract from it.

As to the last part of the original question? The answer remains the same.

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