How much text should be on the slides?

Are you creating a PowerPoint presentation and wondering how much text should be on the slides? 


The shortest answer: the least, the better. 

The honest answer: It depends. 

The longer answer is below. 


Indeed, there shouldn’t be a lot of text on the slides in your presentation. Since you will be presenting it and giving a speech, the slides should just be a visual aid, not a script to read from. The recipients should focus on one thing only: listening to the presenter. They will only glance at the slides to look at some key data on the graph or the photo representing a visual metaphor or a thought shortcut. But they absolutely shouldn’t focus their attention on listening to the presenter and reading text from the slides at the same time. 


Let’s allow our recipients to listen to the presenters attentively without forcing them to read long paragraphs from the slides!


Remember that the text on the slides is just visual aid. It strengthens the message, makes it easier to remember essential information, and adds a visual layer to the critical threads that the presenter is discussing. 


Therefore, I recommend putting text on the slides in short and single phrases rather than lengthy sentences and paragraphs. For example, instead of a long section, divide the same text into multiple short verses. A bullet list or a numbered list is another excellent alternative. 


Until recently, the “7 verse slide” rule was prevalent in the world of PowerPoint presentations. A good slide was defined as a slide that contained no more than seven lines of text. 


In my opinion, this doesn’t matter at all. 


A good slide can have twelve verses. And a sucky slide can have three verses. 

 

More important is for the text not to be written as one long paragraph that looks like a fragment from a novel. Remember: the recipients don’t like reading presentations! They just scan them and read only the information that catches their eye. 


So, instead of writing a long 7-verse paragraph, it’s better to write a few short, one-verse phrases. Short phrases work much better than a few sentences long section. 

 

Plus, if you write these phrases and format them correctly – you’re nailing it!

 

But, what does it mean to write and format them correctly? 


The beginning of each phrase should be the keyword (or two or three keywords), which is the most important part of the whole phrase. Then, the keywords can be easily formatted by bolding the text out, changing the color, and making the letter slightly bigger. Therefore, the keywords become a sort of a title of that piece of information. 


This way, the keywords become the central part of the slide, which will allow your recipient to catch the key information from the slide instantly. 


Generally speaking, the shorter the text, the easier it will be for the recipient to get familiar with it. 


However, not every presentation is displayed with a presenter. Instead, some are sent by email and read directly by the recipient. These are so-called “slide-docs” – documents in the form of slides. So, since there’s no presenter to explain everything from A to Z, these presentations need to contain more text. Slide-doc presentations can therefore have longer paragraphs. What’s important is that the presentation thoroughly explains every relevant information that it contains. 

 

Piotr Garlej

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.