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Presentation Tips, Public speaking

Presentation Tips – How “long” is a slide? Did I miss a meeting?

One of the most pervasive ideas in our world is that a PowerPoint slide has some kind of natural duration.

“I’ve got 10 slides. That’s a minute minimum on each, so 10 minutes.”

We find this idea quite bemusing. Slides are a decent way to support what you are saying, but they are no more than that. If you have been told to put three bullet-points on a slide, then I can see that talking through three ideas would take a minimum time, but even then, why is it a minute?

We came from telly where I never heard anyone say “I’ve got 6 shots in this sequence, that’s 3 seconds a shot – 18 seconds.” Because each shot is just exactly as long as it needs to be to do what it does,

What this idea reveals is a deeply held belief that the slides are the speech. But that’s just wrong. It’s easy to do 100 slides in 5 minutes, or 1. It just depends.

But who told you a slide has a duration? And why wasn’t I invited to that meeting?


About gristpresent

Presentation, Q&A and Engagement Coach. We help you win more business. Also BAFTA-winning film maker. See our new site www.grist.co.uk


2 thoughts on “Presentation Tips – How “long” is a slide? Did I miss a meeting?

  1. Ahhh… that might have been me! Sorry ’bout that.

    When it comes to main content slides (excluding intro slides, jokey slides etc) I think there’s validity in the test that says if the slide can’t support you through a minimum of three minutes talk time, then it isn’t serving a purpose. If the slide is simply up and then gone, then maybe it really should be gone!

    Posted by Peter | June 8, 2012, 3:08 pm
  2. Ah but what about a picture? When we work with Architects and Designers they tend to put 12 images on a slide. I’d be much happier with 4 or 5 full-frame. They could be done in 20 seconds.
    Did Steve Jobs have three minutes on one of his one-word slides?

    But, thanks for taking responsibility for this. We need a scapegoat right now…..

    Posted by gristpresent | June 8, 2012, 3:17 pm

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