How long should I spend talking about each slide?

Many presenters ask us this. But like so many other things to do with presentations, it completely varies depending on the slide, the allotted time, and the presentation content itself.

Some slides will only take a few seconds to get through, and others will take much longer than you’d expect. Quotation slides look like they’re going to be really quick, but explaining the situation and relationship can take longer than you think. Whereas some slides, whilst being a completely new slide technically in the deck, will have been split purely for animation purposes and so will only take a few seconds to present.

A far better way to judge timing is by presentation section. Your presentation should be split into five sections plus introduction and conclusion. As mentioned previously, in order to maximise audience engagement levels, you should shape your presentation around your audience’s attention span. If you can choose the length of your presentation, the optimum is twenty minutes. Allow five minutes for the introduction and conclusion. You should then divide time equally between the remaining sections, allowing around three minutes for each part.

Practise each section as a whole; don’t think in terms of individual slides. You should know what happens on each click and what you are going to say. Use moving to a different value proposition section as an indicator of time, and keep an eye on this rather than on each slide.

In most cases, it should average out that you’re spending about a minute on each slide. If you find yourself going over this by a considerable amount, try cutting down your talking time. Be brief. Strange as it may sound, your audience probably won’t enjoy listening to you talk for hours. Keep it to the point, work with your visuals, and be as succinct as possible. Far better to finish early and allow yourself time to take questions, than to overrun and mess up everyone’s schedule for the rest of the day.

Harry Wilson
Harry Wilson
Harry Wilson is the Founder & Managing Consultant at Convinced.

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