The same is true for creating sales artifacts: we must FIRST worry about telling the story. But we must tell the story within the appropriate parameters. We have to consider the right amount of content for our delivery, how much of it should be reinforced on our slides or handouts, and what pacing and level of interaction is appropriate for our audience.
And yet, so many presenters think they can bend time and space. They KNOW how long the audience is available, and they know how long their deck is, yet they seem surprised when things go amiss. They cram 80 slides into a 20 minute meeting. They present slide after slide with block paragraphs of 8-point text. They drop 14-column Excel spreadsheets into slides that are ugly to look at and impossible to read.
Have you falled into any of these artifact traps? Here are two tips to get back on track:
Assess Your Presentation Rhythm
Some people can tell a compelling story in an hour using only 3 slides; others are equally effective with 100 slides in a hour. The number is not important; the outcome is. If you regularly present from slides, jot down the number of slides and approximate presentation time of your next dozen presentation. Until you assess your actual times, a good rule of thumb is 30-90 seconds per slide. So a 20-minute presentation will usually be in the range of 13-40 slides. When gauging your presentation, you might want to omit any section break slides from your count and give extra weight to slides that you know take longer. The point is not the exact formula you use but that you are aware that your content has to fit into the time allowed.
Nix the Eye Chart
Important corollary to the rule of thumb above: The way to get your presentation from 50 to 20 slides is NOT to simply reduce the font size! Be honest: Has your audience every seemed startled by the amount of text you put on a slide? Do they suddenly reach for glasses or squint at the screen at a certain place in your presentation? As a presenter, you never want to make your audience uncomfortable, distracted or annoyed. Guess what? Teeny-tiny fonts do all three!
Remember that the reason we still call them "slides" is because they were originally designed to be projected. Yes, PowerPoint (Keynote, etc) can be used to create other types of documents, but their primary purpose to support YOU in a group presentation setting. Consider how you change your speaking volume when you are addressing a group of 20 versus talking to one or two people.
Font size is the volume of your slide, so turn it up.
The bigger the room, the larger the font. Even in a more intimate boardroom setting, 16-points should be your absolute minimum font size. If your content doesn't fit on the slide at that size, you are using too many words or trying to convey too many ideas on one slide.