How Should I Pace My PowerPoint Presentation?

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  • 0:01 Understanding Pace of…
  • 0:38 The Rule
  • 3:13 Best Practices
  • 4:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

Often, we wonder how many slides we should use and how much time we should spend on each slide. This lesson will discuss guidelines to determining the pace of a presentation.

Understanding Pace of Presentations

When we think about the pace of a presentation, a few questions immediately come to mind:

  • How many slides should I use?
  • How long should I spend on each slide?
  • How long should my entire presentation last?

Well, unfortunately, there is not one clear-cut answer to each of these questions. However, there are some definite guidelines and factors to consider when determining the right pace of your presentation. This lesson will help answer the questions by reviewing best practices and guidelines for an effective presentation pace.

The Rule

If you research the Internet, you'll find several rules on how many slides are appropriate for your presentation, how long your presentation should be, and how much time you should spend on each slide. I wish it was that easy.

Many years ago, I attended a seminar on best practices when presenting. The speaker gave us a rule. He said '10-2-20'. He said, 'PowerPoint should have no more than 10 slides, you should spend no more than 2 minutes on each slide, and your entire presentation should not last longer than 20 minutes.

This is likely a good place to start, but today, we use PowerPoint for more than just visual support to our speeches in front of large audiences. PowerPoint can be used in small business meetings, during selling negotiations in front of a CEO, classrooms, corporate training events, final college projects, and many more. You can't apply one rule and have it fit every circumstance. Let's compare two examples.

In one example, you have a presentation to a potential customer and you've prepared slides showing many of your company's products. You don't spend more than 60 seconds on each slide, since this is more about showing what products are offered. However, there are 20 slides, one for each product.

Now, let's talk about example number two. You lead an information technology team and you have gathered them together to discuss a scheduled upgrade for Office 2013 for all company employees. There are only five slides, but each one is very detailed about the steps that will be required to complete the upgrade. As a result, each slide takes approximately 7-10 minutes.

Comparing these two examples, one has more slides but less time spent on each slide, while the other just has a few slides but more time spent on each one. In both, use of pace is effective. Why?

Well, many times the subject and the audience will dictate the pace of your presentation. In both cases, each presentation was created with subject and audience in mind.

How many slides are necessary for you to convey your message in an effective and memorable way? Well, it might be zero. It might be one. It might be 200. It depends heavily on the nature of your content, the message you are delivering, and the complexity of your slides.

Let's review other best practices when wanting a good pace for your presentation.

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