Presentation Crash Course #3: How many slides should I have?

by Improve Presentation Last Updated: 2018.08.01

(If you’re just joining the Weekly Presentation Crash Course by Improve Presentation, you might want to start at the beginning!)

The truth is that there’s no easy answer to this question, such as “one per minute”. Some presentations would be better with no slides at all, while some expert speakers can click through 120 simple slides in an 30 minutes and their presentation is still awesome.

The Vintage Template

The number of slides should not really matter or at least it should not be a primary concern. It depends on what’s on them and what you want to convey. The best way to learn is by examples so I will try to explain it by using two extreme different approaches.

Two Extreme Examples

First presenter is Peter Hinssen at TEDxBrussels. Peter uses a LOT of slides but look how perfectly they fit it into his story. The story & the slides are one. If you plan to use a lot of slides in your presentation remember that the visuals you present should go smooth with what you have to say.

Second presenter is Sir Ken Robinson who’s talk on “How schools kill creativity” is one of the top most viewed TED talks of all time. Guess what? No slides.

Final Thoughts

The number of slides you prepare depends on the type of talk you want to give and the type of person you are.

You’ll understand yourself more as you give more talks. As you practice more and more, you start understanding how many slides you need in order to comfortably get your point across. If this is your first talk, that might be a bit difficult to judge, though.

Source: Zach Holman /

Instead of asking how many slides you should have, the right question to ask is “How many slides do I need to communicate my message to my audience?”

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