Whether you’re a PowerPoint newbie or a seasoned pro, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at one point or another: how much is too much for one slide? Here’s the definitive answer.
Oh, sorry, did you think there would be a clear, cut-and-dried answer, like “400 characters” or “800 pixels”? Unfortunately, there’s not one definitive answer. The best amount of information to include on each slide depends on a number of things.
Consider the following factors:
1 – How big is your audience?
2 – How big is the screen or viewing surface you’re projecting images on to?
3 – How detailed is the material you’re presenting?
4 – How is the room designed? How close are people sitting and does everyone have an equally good view of what’s being projected?
Generally speaking, a slide featuring a block of text should include no more than 1-2 sentences. A slide that uses bullet points should include no more than 5 or 6 bullet points, with no more than 2-3 words following each bullet.
Remember, your slides are designed to support your verbal presentation, not replace it. So there’s no need to include everything you plan to say on each slide. If you did, the slide would become a distraction instead of an enhancement.
Now, if images are the compelling factor in your presentation, then you would want to include less words on your slides and more images. After all, a picture is worth 1,000 words.
One image per slide is generally plenty, unless you are making a side-by-side comparison, in which two images would work. If this is the case, it’s best to make the images the same size (dimensions) as it provides the easiest comparison viewing.
Larger audiences will rely on your slides more heavily, because they can’t all see you (the speaker) as easily. More detailed material requires more slides with small amounts of information on each slide. Highly detailed slides are not ideal for larger groups, smaller screens, or odd room layouts.
If you must provide detailed information in a less than ideal setting, consider creating handouts for participants to follow along and take with them. Post a recycle box or bin for folks to recycle papers they don’t intend to keep for future reference.
No matter how much you ultimately put on each slide, you’ll definitely want to have a slide show projector handy to support your presentation.
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