Presentation Slide Counts

Consider these slide-count variables as you’re creating your presentation:

No slides

If you need to make a very personal connection with your audience, or you’re delivering a short talk in a casual environment, go without slides. They don’t work in every situation. As Andrew Dlugan says in his “Six Minutes” blog about public speaking, presenters shouldn’t use slides in a commencement speech, a eulogy, a wedding toast, or a layoff announcement. If you’re unsure whether slides are appropriate, bring them with you but also carry a printout of your slide notes in case you decide when you arrive that it’s best to leave your laptop off.

Moderate slide count

Some experts recommend 1 to 2 slides per minute, or 30 to 60 slides for an hour-long talk. That’s about the average count in corporate presentations—but most of them cram too much information on each slide. If you’ve broken your content down to one idea per slide, you may end up with more than 60 slides.

High slide count

Some presenters use 5 slides per minute. This rapid-fire style keeps the audience extra alert because people will visually re-engage with each click—but it requires a lot of rehearsal and careful pacing. In a 40-minute talk, we typically use 150 slides. (If you count “builds” within each slide, we click up to 300 times.) But when we ask audiences how many slides they think we used, they usually say between 30 and 50.

Social media slide count
The most popular presentations on social media sites like slideshare.com have more than 75 slides but you can read them all in 2 to 3 minutes. They also tend to be built like children’s books—one clear sentence with one clear visual. The sparse format makes it so you click more often.

So…Don’t worry about slide count. Just make your slides count.