Presenting with Too Many Slides

The Fear of Not Enough Slides

Robot
I just finished a slide show on opportunities in commercial energy management. As usual, I created too many slides. From more than 30 years of presentation experience, 10 slides is enough for most one-hour presentations. Too many slides forces the presenter to focus on the slides rather than on the audience. OK then, why did I create 35 slides for a 1.5-hour presentation? I think that presenters have a fear of somehow reaching at their last slide halfway through their presentation time slot. However, I’ve never exhausted my slides early in a presentation. On the contrary, I have to skip slides in the interest of time and this can be frustrating to a curious audience. Why do I create too many slides then?

Getting Your Audience Involved

I believe in asking a lot of questions when I present. This works better in small groups compared to large groups. My commercial building presentation on Tuesday afternoon at the ACI conference could last 1.5 to 2 hours. I don’t know how many people will be there. I want to try something new. I think that part of the presentation will be a sales pitch for the building solutions in my presentation. I’ll ask the audience to act as the building owners and to ask questions and state objections to my proposals. The presentation is about business opportunity after all. To realize an business opportunity, you must sell something. If this strategy works, I’ll have far too many slides. What should I do about that?

The Two-Pronged Presentation

Is there a law that says that you must read or discuss every slide? Your audiences thinks faster than you can talk. Just keep advancing the slides. They’ll process two teaching channels at once. Your speech and your audience interaction is one teaching channel and the slides are another. If you keep your slides simple, you can project two teaching channels. Don’t be a slave to your slides!

3 thoughts on “Presenting with Too Many Slides”

  1. John Krigger commented on Saturn Energy Blog:

    I agree with the assertion that you can show far more slides than I’m recommending with success. Best to have those slides as graphics filling the entire screen with less than 10 words of text. If the slides contain graphs or more than 15 words of text, I would limit slides to 15 an hour or less. 80 slides gets me through a 7 hour day of presentation.

  2. John – There are certainly different presentation forums. A small group of six or eight people is a lot different than even twenty to two hundred. It’s very hard to have a discussion session with a large group unless they have been primed before-hand. This is the “Sesame Street” Generation, accustomed to images rapidly flashing by, twitter messages, afe (acronyms for everything)! A session with few images leaves the presenter to yammer on, proving how smart they are (which I have learned from you is not the point of teaching), or hoping to engage the audience with on-topic discussion. A session with a lot of images can “show” the pertinent elements of a topic rather than “tell” about it. My approach is 40 seconds per slide or less.

    1. I agree with the assertion that you can show far more slides than I’m recommending with success. Best to have those slides as graphics filling the entire screen with less than 10 words of text. If the slides contain graphs or more than 15 words of text, I would limit slides to 15 an hour or less. 80 slides gets me through a 7 hour day of presentation.

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