How many slides are too many for a presentation?

Presentation in a meeting

So, you are preparing a presentation for your next conference or event and can’t figure out how many slides are too many slides for a presentation?

Then you are at the right place!

According to the general rule of thumb, people prefer to use 1-2 slides per minute. This can help you figure out a broad range of slides that would be ideal for your presentation.

Here it is also important for you to understand that we cannot give you a specific number of slides that would be too many for a presentation. Determining whether or not a certain number of slides would be too many for a presentation would depend on tons of factors.

Factors that determine the Number of Slides in a Presentation

1. Your topic

Your topic would give you a brief idea about how many slides you would essentially require. So, for instance, if you were to present on a generic or popular topic like climate change, you might have way more information available to you that you can add to your presentation than if you were presenting on how to make vegan chocolate banana cake.

2. Duration of your presentation

At times, you might be given a very specific duration for the presentation like 10-15 minutes to present your research findings or 20 minutes for your TED talk.

3. Purpose of your presentation

What is the purpose behind presenting this particular idea to your audience? Is it because you want to inform them about something or because you want to sell your product?

In both cases as the content of the slides change, there would be a huge change in the ideal number of slides as well.

4. Your audience

Let’s say you are to present to an audience that has a majority of primary students. What is something that you would definitely include in your presentation?

Images!

You might as well include videos of cartoons or animated GIFs to keep the students entertained. This might add a couple of your slides to your presentation.

On the other hand, when it comes to corporate presentation, you might add diagrams and charts to explain a certain concept or view which would essentially bring down your slide count.

5. Content of your presentation

Content of your presentations concerns understanding whether your presentation is informative, descriptive, persuasive, or of any other form. In each case, the number of slides necessary for the presentation to be effective would differ.

6. Number of speakers

Another factor that plays a crucial role in the total number of slides that should be added to a presentation is the number of speakers. The reason behind this is that each speaker would have their own unique pace and style of presenting.

For instance, you might find it very easy to explain a concept based on a couple of bulleted points while your partner may find it much easier to explain the same concept through charts or diagrams.

7. Mode of presentation

Is the presentation being conducted in front of an audience or is it online? The answer to this question may sometimes also affect the number of slides added to a presentation.

There are no general rules for the ideal number of slides for your 3-minutes, 5-minutes, or even 30-minutes.

Why?

Because there are tons and tons of ways you can structure your presentation and add slides. At the end of the day, you can add any number of slides to your presentation as long as you are able to reach your audience and present your topic effectively.

But how many slides are too many slides for a presentation?

Some people have made presentations with more than 1000 slides as well, so if you think your presentation Is too long, ask yourself does your presentation beat them?

If yes, we suggest you must consider enrolling yourself in the Guinness World Records.

Don’t believe us? Check out this CEO who made 1284 slide presentations titled “Lessons from my 20s” during his 30th birthday here.

On the other hand, as discussed presentations don’t usually come with a set number of slides that need to be added. This means you can have as little as one to no slides for your presentation and still call it a successful presentation!

But wait..

What is the maximum number of slides you can add to a PowerPoint presentation?

If you are making a presentation on PowerPoint, then you are free to add any number of slides as long as it doesn’t exceed 100MB of storage space.  

So now the question is, to what extent are you willing to experiment with your slides for your next presentation?

Problem with having too many slides in a presentation

While we know we have said it before that it is your call to decide the number of your slides, you also need to understand that it doesn’t mean you add slides just for the heck of it or just because it looks more aesthetically pleasing.

There is a major problem with having too many slides in a presentation. This issue is what we call the issue of rigidity in presenting.

What does rigidity in the delivery of a presentation mean?

Rigidity in presenting is when you have structured your presentation in such a way that it is difficult for you to go off the track planned by you. This especially poses a big challenge when you try to rote learn and aren’t able to recall your speech.

When you have too many slides in a presentation, it becomes difficult for you to tweak your speech. And tweaking your speech after assessing the mood of your audience or the room happens to be one of the crucial aspects of carrying out an effective presentation.

How to determine if there are too many slides for a presentation?

Have you already made a PowerPoint presentation but aren’t sure if you should continue with the same or you should cut down on the slides?

Two situations would help you determine if there are indeed too many slides in a presentation, they are:

1. When you aren’t able to complete the presentation on time

This is something that you can assess while practicing your presentation. If you are given time duration of 10 minutes and asked to present on the topic, the first thing that you need to check is whether you are or aren’t able to complete the presentation well before time. If not, then those are too many slides for your presentation.

2. When you have to increase your pace to fit the content of slides

Another factor that you need to take a look into is whether you have to increase your pace while presenting or is your pace close to your usual pace?

The pace of presenting is the number of words spoken per minute. An average person usually speaks 250-300 words per minute.

If you have to increase your pace of presenting, then sadly there are too many slides for that presentation and you need to work on it!

Things to keep in mind while creating slides for a presentation

speaker presenting to an audience

Here is where we talk about the Dos and Donts of making a presentation.

Golden rules of presentation

When we talk about golden rules, there 2 very basic and important things that you must not ignore while making a presentation. These are the most essential Dos for any presentation. And it stays the same for all types of presentations!

1. Keep it to the point

Copy pasting a couple of important paragraphs from your study or source or speech can seem exciting for you as a presenter for it will make the task of delivering the presentation more convenient. However, presentations are often less about the presenter and more about the audience.

Presentations with short bulleted points as opposed to paragraphs are more aesthetically pleasing plus it keeps the interest alive in the audience as these short points give out only limited information about your topic.

2. Add visuals

Visuals include pictures, GIFs, charts, or even tables and can easily enhance your presentation in no time. It gives the audience a chance to picture and relate to what you are talking about. It also helps them analyze and review the charts or tables for themselves.

Besides visuals help you compress your descriptive content on the slides.

An example of a slide for a presentation is given below:

Presentation on Veganism

Mistakes in making slides for a Presentation

1. Text over image

When making presentations, you might have come across the idea of adding an image in the background and adding text over it. The reason we suggest you not do that is that the texts at times aren’t visible or get merged with the image.

You can see an example of how text over the image can seem very unflattering from a viewer’s point of view.

Presentation on Veganism

2. Too much information

As we have discussed before, writing paragraphs or long lines in your slides is not only aesthetically unappealing but also gives the audience a clear bait to simply read the content in your presentation rather than listening to you. And no, you can’t blame your audience for not listening to you!

An example of how not to add content in your slides is given below:

Presentation on Veganism

3. No visuals

A presentation with no visuals is like an ice cream sandwich with no ice cream. It is less exciting to look at, and may even increase the number of slides in your presentation making the overall presentation lengthier.

4. Poor fonts

One of the biggest mistakes you can do in trying to beautify your presentation is selecting fonts that are challenging to read from. An example of the same is given below.

Presentation on Veganism

Try to add fonts that are easy to read and make your presentations look cleaner. If you cannot find one then stick to using the most popular font style, Times New Roman.

5. Background noises and transitions

If you plan on adding transitions or background noises to your presentations, ask yourself how necessary is it to add them.

In case of transitions, try to avoid very dramatic transitions that take to move from one slide to the other.

How do you find the right number of slides to add to your presentation?

Presentation on imposter syndrome being presented to an audience.

Although as discussed, we would suggest you not have a very specific number of slides in your mind while making your presentation, there are still a couple of ways you can try to figure out just how many slides would be enough or too many slides for a presentation.

The idea of this blog is to not push you to follow any one or two such rules. Rather read through them and see for yourself what suits best for you and what doesn’t.

Slide Rules for Presentation

10/20/30 rule in presentation

Formulated by Guy Kawasaki, the 10/20/30 rule is very popularly adopted by presenters worldwide.

The rule states three things.

First, your presentation should not be more than 10 slides long as people’s interests and attention span usually deteriorate after reaching the 10th slide.

Second, your presentation should not be longer than 20 minutes because again, it is challenging for people to be attentive after listening to someone speak for 20 minutes straight.

But what do you do if you are given a 30- or 45-minutes time to give your presentation?

you can,

  • Try adding a question-and-answer session
  • Try to add an activity to engage the audience
  • Follow a different method of making presentations like the 2/4/8 or 5 by 5.

The third thing that Kawasaki discourages through the rule is having a font size smaller than 30. Try to add fonts that are either 30 or bigger so that it is easily visible  

2/4/8 rule in PowerPoint

The 2/4/8 rule for presentation suggests that you should ideally change slides every 2 minutes, and have no more than 4 bulleted points per slide with each bullet point comprising of 8 words or less.

5 by 5 rule in PowerPoint

You would be using the 5 by 5 rule of presentation when all slides in your presentation comprise 5 lines or points each, with each point or line having only 5 words or less.

6 by 6 or 1-6-6 rule in presentation

6 by 6 rule for presentation which is also sometimes known as the 1-6-6 rule states that in one slide, you must have no more than six words per point/line/bullet or six bullets per image. So, what do the other 6 indicate? Any guesses?

Yes! It is the limit for the number of words you should add to each of your points or lines.

So, 6 bullet points per slide with each point comprising of 6 words or less is what the 6 by 6 rule for presentation talks about.

How many slides should you add to a presentation?

As discussed, when it comes to the number of slides that you should add to your presentation, it would depend on how you want to go about with your presentation.

The numbers given by us would be most beneficial or accurate for you if in your presentation you are planning to

  1. Add one idea per slide
  2. Add one slide per minute
  3. Add one slide per 2 minutes

The table below will help you glance through the number of slides that you can add to your presentation.

Duration of PresentationNumber of Slides (excluding Introduction and Thank you slide)
2-minute presentations1-4 slides
3-minute presentations2-3 slides
4-minute presentations2-4 slides
5-minute presentations2-5 slides
7-minute presentations4-7 slides
10-minute presentations5-10 slides
15-minute presentations10-15 slides
20-minute presentations10-20 slides
25-minute presentations17-25 slides
30-minute presentations15-30 slides
60-minute presentations30-60 slides
90-minute presentations45-90 slides

How many slides are needed for a 2-minute presentation?

For a 2-minute presentation, you can add 1-4 slides excluding the basic descriptive and thank you slide. You can also choose to give the presentation with no slides!

An example of a 2-minute Presentation or pitch is given below.

Do check it out to see how beautifully the speaker makes use of humor and rhetoric while presenting in such a short time.

How many slides for a 3-minute presentation?

For a 3-minute presentation, 2-3 slides should be sufficient provided you are able to convey your idea effectively.

You can also choose to be very minimalistic by having less than 3 slides for your 3-minute presentations.

Check out the example below wherein the speaker makes use of merely 1 slide for her 3-minute presentation.

How many slides for a 4-minute presentation?

Having 2-4 slides informative slides can prove to be very effective in delivering on-point 4-minute presentations.

How many slides for a 5-minute Presentation?

You can present your topic in 5 minutes with either no or 1 slide or you can make use of 2-5 slides for your 5-minute presentations.

An example of a scientific research study presentation is given below. We recommend you to watch it and check the great use of diagrams by the presenter to explain his topic.

How many slides for a 7-minute presentation?

You can add 4-7 slides for your 7-minute presentations.

How many slides for a 10-Minute presentation?

5-10 slides are generally used for 10-minute presentations.

The TED presentation by Ayana is a good example of a 10-minute presentation. She makes use of well-structured slides, using the Venn diagram to explain her ideas and also sharing with the audience stories of how others found their joy in climate action after using her Venn diagram method.

How many slides for a 15-Minute Presentation?

For a 15-minute presentation, adding 10-15 slides can help you present effectively.

When it comes to an example of a 15-minute presentation, there is one presentation that I can never get out of my mind and that is the one given by Tim Urban on TED.

His use of epic visuals topped with excellent humor is what has stayed with me and if you want to see it too, check out his presentation below:

How many slides for a 20-minute presentation?

Adding 10-20 slides for your 20-minute presentations might help you put your ideas across to your audience and conveniently reach them.

But you are also free to add many more slides than the number suggested based on the kind of information you are planning to share.

An example of adding many slides for your 20-minute presentation is given below. The most distinctive factor was how the speaker simply makes use of photographs he has taken of people and discussed their stories with the people.

How many slides for a 25-minute presentation?

Adding 17-25 slides for a 25-minute presentation should essentially help in navigating you through your entire topic effectively.

How many slides for a 30-minute Presentation?

According to the general trend, having 15-30 slides in your 30-minute presentation should be sufficient.

How many slides for a 60-minute presentation?

30-60 slides for a 60-minute presentation should essentially help you present your topic in a very detailed and crisp manner.

How many PowerPoint slides for a 90-minute presentation?

For 90-minute presentations, you can include any number of slides between 45-90 or can choose to add even more than 90 slides if necessary.

Final Words

While we might be tempted to find a particular number of slides that are necessary to be included in our presentations, the truth I that there are no specific rules or numbers that you can refer to while making your presentation.

At the end of the day, presentations are about sharing your ideas, opinions, or results with the audience which makes it important for you to focus on the content of your presentation rather than the number of slides you are supposed to add.

In short, you can say that there are too many slides in your presentation when affects the quality of your overall presentation.

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