How many PowerPoint slides should you use?

I recommend this book!

Tuesday’s teaching tip is for all of you who like to use PowerPoint or Keynote occasionally as a teaching aid. I realize that many of you may have “master teacher” classes in large rooms, and you may use PowerPoint each week. From one of the absolute best books on the market about using PowerPoint, Keynote, or another presentation software, are thoughts from the author of the book Slide:ology. It’s become my go-to resource when putting together presentations using PowerPoint or Keynote.

So how many slides are right for a presentation? In Sky’s short eight-minute presentation, she used 200 slides, delivered with an engaging cadence. This quickly paced style isn’t easy and requires practice. In fact, it’s more common for presenters to display one slide every two minutes. But even that rule only goes so far. Some presenters require as many as four slides per minute while others will linger on any given slide for up to four minutes. The point is to use as many slides as necessary to get your point across. And please, try to stick to one point per slide.

So there you have it – great advice about using slides. Again, use as many as you need to make your point, but not more than that. Also, another great rule of thumb is to make sure you have no more than six lines on any slide, and that each line on your slide has no more than six words on it. That goes for the title of your slide, too (called the 6X6 rule).

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PowerPoint can make a powerful point if you use it right

If you are a Bible study leader who likes to use PowerPoint, you know it can be an effective way to communicate your thoughts to Microsoft_PowerPoint_2013_logo.svg__0a group. It can also do just the opposite – it can hinder good ideas from getting across to your learners. If you are going to use PowerPoint, you might as well use it correctly, and there are some do’s and don’ts that you must keep in mind as a presenter.

I recommend this book!
I recommend this book!

I highly recommend the book Slide:ology – The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. It has become “the Bible” for using PowerPoint correctly. I presented some of the recommendations from the book at a recent training event in one of our western states. Almost none of these trainers had ever been exposed to the great suggestions about using PowerPoint the right way. I am delighted to share a few of them with you through today’s blog post. The next time you use PowerPoint, make sure you do the following:

  1. Follow the “6 X 6” Rule. As you create slides, do not use more than six words in your title, no more than six words per line, and no more than six lines per slide. This will keep the words to a minimum, and your impact at maximum. It also forces you to be precise – think “every word matters.” Have a laser-like precision when you put words on slides.

    A nice clean slide
    A nice clean slide
  2. Be consistent in the types of images you use. You’ve seen really bad PowerPoint slide shows in which the presenter used all kinds of images, right? Some of the images were of real-world objects, other images were cartoons, and they just should not be used together. If you start with a kind of image, stick with that throughout your PowerPoint slide deck. Be consistent, not schizophrenic.
  3. Don’t overuse animation. Yes, it’s fun when you first discover all the different ways words can be programmed to appear, crawl, spin, bounce, and twirl onto the screen. But too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. Keep your animations simple, and use them minimally.
  4. Make sure the guy in the back can read each slide. No one likes to squint. As you create your PowerPoint slide deck,
    Slide is too crowded w/words
    Slide is too crowded w/words

    ask yourself whether the person who sits furthest away from it can read the words on the screen. This goes back to the 6 X 6 Rule – “more is less.” We’ve all been forced to read someone’s bad slide that has nothing but words from top to bottom at about a 14 point font – and it’s miserable. Use the largest font possible and as few words as possible and you’ll have happy campers.

  5. Don’t use PowerPoint every time you present. It’s the same idea I try to get across to the person that loves to lecture each time he presents – don’t! Change things up. Move things around. Keep your group members guessing. If you use PowerPoint each time you lead a group Bible study, you reduce your impact because you are being way too predictable. Don’t let PowerPoint become a crutch!

This barely scratches the surface of things to do in order to create effective PowerPoint slide decks. Maybe I’ll come back and write a “part 2” of this post. The 5 tips here, though, will get you on a better path for using PowerPoint like it’s meant to be used.

Happy slide-creating!

Using PowerPoint? Remember the 1x6x6 Rule for Communicating Effectively

If you’re like me, from time to time I like to use PowerPoint in the classroom.  I have asked conference attendees, “What is the worst teaching method you can use?” and I always hear, “It’s lecture.”  But that’s not the right answer!  The worst method you can use is the one you use all the time, so I don’t rely on PowerPoint all the time…just occasionally.  When I use it, though, I always pay attention to the “1x6x6” Rule.

The 1x6x6 Rule simply says that you should create slides with one main point and no more than six lines or bullets, with no more than 6 words per line.  That’s it.  Pretty simple, right?  Look at the example below…which line is easier to read and remember?

  • Cross-cultural surveys indicate that 58% of people are unaware of the faith traditions of their neighbors, co-workers, and others
  • 58% not aware of faith traditions

So clean up those PowerPoint slides and help your class members remember the important points you want to make!  Use the 1x6x6 Rule the next time you create a PowerPoint slide show for work or for your Sunday School classroom.