• Martin 
  • 6 min read

How many PowerPoint slides for a 10-15 minute presentation?

Table of Contents

**Spoiler alert**

A 10-minute presentation should have between 10-14 slides and a 15-minute presentation 15-20 slides. 

Present each slide for 45-60 seconds.

Why?

The 'Goldilocks-mindset' - a tough audience

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Goldilocks And The Three Bears helps us understand why and how to structure your message and slides.

Goldilocks is a tough audience. Things need to be ‘just right’; otherwise, she rejects them and moves on taking her attention with her. 

Is the porridge too hot, too cold or just right?

Is the chair way too big, still too big or just right?

Is the bed too hard, too soft or just right?

Goldilocks is only interested in what is the right fit for her. This is perfect as neither the presenter nor the audience wants to waste their time in a presentation with no value; the message needs to be ‘just right’.

The following blog post is for delivering a live stage presentation either in-person or online.

The starting point, your audience and your goals - discovery questions

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Starting with the ‘Goldilocks-mindset’, ask yourself two discovery questions to define a ‘just right’ message. 

 

#1 – Who is my audience?

#2 – What is my goal for giving this presentation?

 

#1 – Who is my audience?

Each presentation is different based on your relationship with your audience. 

Is the audience people you know or people you are getting to know? 

What expectations do they have for the presentation? 

Are they the decision-makers who can take direct action?

 

#2 – What is my goal for giving this presentation?

Ask yourself, what is in it for you, and what is in it for your audience?

What are the desired outcomes from having people’s attention and sharing your message?

Is your presentation goal to inspire, inform, educate, persuade or something else?

Click here for a PDF checklist of 20 discovery questions you can use to define your audience and goals. 

Target number of slides - be intentional

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A 10-minute presentation should have 10-14 slides.

A 15-minute presentation should have 15-20 slides.

 

Aiming for one slide per 45-60 seconds in your presentation allows you to be informative and professional without sharing too little or too much. The goal is to keep Goldilocks attention, focus on your message and the shared outcomes.

 

An additional idea which supports 45-60 seconds per slide is to present one idea per slide. 

 

One idea per slide allows you to focus on the essential information, establish your domain expertise and transfer awareness and understanding to your audience.

However, the guideline of one slide every 45-60 seconds is not set in stone. Some slides might be fast and some slow. 

A third discovery question to ask yourself is what flow and rhythm do you want to create for the audience? 

Think of your favourite songs; they have loud and quiet parts, fast and slow, they take you on an emotional journey. A presentation needs to do the same. 

Be intentional with your performance. Engage and inspire your audience with slides that move. If you feel confident and your message works with less or more slides, that is great. It all comes down to the most effective performance for the audience and the goals of the presentation.

Time is a non-refundable asset - start a conversation

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Remember Goldilocks wastes no time with things that are right for her. 

Your audience is exchanging non-refundable time to learn something they cannot get from a brochure, video or website. 

This places you as the focus of attention. Do not mistake focus for importance. Your audience and their non-refundable time are the most important people in the room during your presentation. 

The one idea per slide approach also stops the slides becoming too dense. When slides have too much text, images or graphics, the audience’s attention is torn between listening to you and reading the slide. The focus becomes the slide, and the speaker drifts into the background. This is not the result you want. Your presentation should be a conversation between you and your audience focused on your shared goals.

Avoiding over-pitching - no content pile-ups

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Over-pitching a slide. This is when you do not advance through your slides on cue, and you end up presenting the content of the next slide on the current slide. This creates a ‘content pile-up’. 

Over-pitching a slide puts pressure on the current slide to communicate a message, it was not designed for. It also tips the balance and flow of the overall presentation.

 

Takeaways

  • The ‘Goldilocks-mindset’ – a tough audience
  • The starting point, your audience, and your goals – discovery questions
  • The target number of slides – be intentional 
  • Time is a non-refundable asset – start a conversation
  • Avoiding over-pitching – no content pile-ups
  • Present like Baby Bear – just right

Present like Baby Bear - just right

present just right

In Goldilocks and the three bears, Goldilocks is the audience, and the bears are presenting. In the end, Baby bear had the most relevant content for his audience. Daddy bear and Mummy bear ‘presentations’ were not the right fit. Consider your audience and their goldilocks-mindset when creating your slides.

The two principles of speaking for 45-60 seconds per side. And one idea per slide are practical guidelines that position you to deliver the right content on the right amount of slides avoiding content pile-ups. 

Remember, success always comes down to your audience and presenting to them. Present like Baby Bear.

 

Martin Barnes is a pitch coach who has worked with 100’s of founders and entrepreneurs, inspiring them to pitch their business stories and pitch for attention because attention is the bridge from your business to creating value.

 

Click here for a detailed workflow to structure your message and start designing your slides.

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